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Trump ratchets up sales job for new health care plan

“Don’t worry, getting rid of state lines, which will promote competition, will be in phase 2 & 3 of healthcare rollout. @foxandfriends,” President Donald Trump tweeted. | AP Photo

As conservatives voice reservations about the House GOP bill, the president calls it a ‘wonderful’ plan and promises further reforms.

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning promised to soon roll out other elements of the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, just hours after House Republicans debuted their replacement bill.

“Don’t worry, getting rid of state lines, which will promote competition, will be in phase 2 & 3 of healthcare rollout. @foxandfriends,” Trump tweeted, as it appeared he was watching Fox News on Tuesday morning.

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The president also said he is cranking away at a plan to improve drug prices, something the Republican bill, dubbed the “American Health Care Act,” did not directly address.

“I am working on a new system where there will be competition in the Drug Industry. Pricing for the American people will come way down!” he tweeted.

Trump also expressed optimism that his administration would be able to get in a new system relatively quickly, calling the House Republican bill a “wonderful” one.

“Our wonderful new Healthcare Bill is now out for review and negotiation. ObamaCare is a complete and total disaster – is imploding fast!” he wrote.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt Tuesday morning that he expects the American Health Care Act to be passed out of the House and sent to the Senate by the end of March. The Republicans have enough votes in both the Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee to move the bill to the House floor without incident, Brady said, and the goal will be to move the legislation to the Senate before it takes up the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

The tweets from Trump seemed to be an acknowledgment that Republicans won’t be able to fully replace Obamacare through the relatively speedy budget reconciliation process and that instead, Republicans will have to address major lingering issues later in the year, likely with the help of Democrats.

Even the first attempt at legislation during Trump’s early presidency is already running into headwinds from Republicans skeptical of the plan. Already looking to soothe the concerns of some of the bill’s more vocal GOP opponents, Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday morning that the legislation is likely to change as it makes its way through a “very open process on Capitol Hill.”

And in a letter to the committee chairmen who will hold the first markups of the bill this week, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price threw the weight of the Trump administration behind it, writing that “your proposals represent a necessary and important first step towards fulfilling our promises to the American people.”

In a sign of how difficult it will be to get conservatives aboard, Heritage Action of America, the advocacy arm of The Heritage Foundation, on Tuesday expressed deep reservations about the House bill.

“Many Americans seeking health insurance on the individual market will notice no significant difference between the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) and the American Health Care Act,” Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham said. “That is bad politics and, more importantly, bad policy.”

Four key Senate Republicans are balking at the House plan to repeal the Medicaid expansion after 2020, and House conservatives have yet to commit to backing the proposal.

In a Monday night interview with CNN, House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said “I don’t see any significant changes here” between Obamacare and the House GOP bill to replace it. “It’s significantly the same thing to me so it sort of doesn’t change my position, but we’ll talk to our guys tomorrow night… My guess is this bill looks a lot like the last one, and we didn’t like the last one,” he said.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called the American Health Care Act “Obamacare-lite” and said “it will not pass” during a Tuesday morning interview on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends.”

“Conservatives aren’t going to take it,” Paul said. “I spoke with the president yesterday, and I think he’s open minded on this. He wants Obamacare repealed like all conservatives do. But he realizes that conservatives have a lot of objections.”

The bill was received warmly by other Republicans, including House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chffetz (R-Utah), who told CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday that “I do like what I see” in the new healthcare legislation. The GOP lawmaker conceded that an overall decrease in the number of Americans with healthcare coverage could be a byproduct, but that it remained too early to offer a full analysis of the legislation.

Chaffetz also said that “Americans have choices” when it comes to their health care and that “maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care.”

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Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

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