Trump, GOP leaders looking for way to salvage healthcare reform amid revolt from conservatives

Almost immediately after House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., introduced the American Health Care Act as the repeal-and-replace legislation for failing Obamacare, he realized he had a problem that would not easily be overcome.

Even before he formally offered up the AHCA, he knew he’d get little-to-no support from congressional Democrats. What he likely did not count on or expect was the amount of vehement opposition he is getting from members of his own party, especially the more conservative faction.

Some complained that it was Ryan’s take it or leave it approach to “selling” the bill. When introducing it to Congress and the media, Ryan said either Republicans were going to repeal and replace Obamacare (with his legislation) or it wouldn’t happen because now is “the closest we’ve ever come” to fulfilling a key campaign promise for virtually every Republican member of Congress (and President Donald J. Trump).

But even Ryan admitted that the AHCA is not the repeal-and-replace measure that all had hoped for. No, he said, repeal-and-replace would have to be done in stages because of the manner in which even a watered-down measure would have to be passed in the Senate. Budget reconciliation, which was used to pass the framework of Obamacare in the first place, only requires a Senate majority, not the 60 votes normally required to end filibusters of legislation. And since Republicans control 52 seats, there would be little Democrats could do to stop it. (RELATED: CBO was wrong over Obamacare sign-ups – or half-right, depending on how you look at it)

Then some Senate Republicans started to bail on the legislation, but not for the same reasons House Republicans are bailing: Some are defending Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid, which is only hastening the day when that entitlement becomes unsustainable, and to many a House conservative, that’s the one provision that has to go (because it’s fiscally unsustainable).

What to do?

As reported by The National Sentinel, the president is prepared to do his part to make a deal and get a key campaign promise on the way towards fulfillment:

… President Donald J. Trump seems convinced that he can get a deal done and get something passed that, if not loved universally among Republicans, at least liked well enough among a majority of them.

The Washington Examiner noted further:

Speaking at a rally in Kentucky, Trump said he was ready to work with Republican leaders who support the bill, but also lawmakers like Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Paul opposes the bill, but Trump said he likes Paul “a lot.”

“And I look forward to working with him so we can get this bill passed, in some form, so that we can pass massive tax reform, which we can’t do until this happens,” Trump said.

“So we gotta get this done before we can do the other,” he explained. “In other words, we have to know what this is before we can do the big tax cuts. We gotta get it done for a lot of reasons, but that’s one of them.” (RELATED: Trump introduces a “repeal and replace” angle for Obamacare)

Last week, Trump said he had been successful in flipping some conservative votes during a White House meeting to discuss the legislation. He said the legislation will boost “bidding by insurance companies like you’ve never seen before” to get rates down for consumers, as well as new designs for health plans that “nobody’s even thought of … to take care of people.”

On Tuesday, Trump traveled to Capitol Hill to make a personal appeal to Republican holdouts, warning them that either they supported the legislation – which is being tweaked to satisfy both conservative and moderate Republicans – or “lose your seat” at the next election, since the promise to repeal Obamacare was part of what helped the GOP build on their congressional majorities and get Trump elected.

During a closed-door meeting with the House GOP conference, Trump reportedly said, “I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018.”

“This Thursday we have a chance to repeal and replace Obamacare, and this time you’ve actually got someone who will sign the bill,” Trump told them. “I’m asking for your vote.”

J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for and, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.


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