President Donald Trump has reportedly asked Republican senators to draft a “more generous” healthcare bill than the “mean, mean, mean” American Health Care Act (AHCA) recently passed by the House.
During a private White House lunch with 15 GOP senators on Tuesday, Trump reportedly told his guests that the House bill was “mean, mean, mean,” adding that the new bill needs to be “more generous, more kind,” Congressional sources told the Associated Press and CNN.
"He made pretty clear that he thinks the House bill leaves people – many of which probably make up his base – in a bad place," one source told CNN.
A report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that under the House-approved bill, an estimated 23 million people would lose their health coverage by 2026. The CBO also determined that healthcare costs for older Americans and people with pre-existing conditions would increase.
During the public part of the meeting, Trump told reporters that the ACHA is going to be “a phenomenal bill to the people of our country: generous, kind, with heart.”
"And that may be adding additional money into it. We are going to come out with a real bill, not Obamacare," Trump said, according to CNN.
On May 4, the House passed the ACHA, under the leadership of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin). During a ceremony at the Rose Garden, Trump praised the bill as “an incredible healthcare plan” and “something very, very incredibly well-crafted,” according to the White House. Trump added that he was “confident” that the bill would pass through the Senate.
On Tuesday, several Democratic lawmakers pointed out Trump’s contradicting statements on Twitter.
“Americans won't forget that @HouseGOP passed a ‘mean’ bill to rip healthcare from millions then celebrated @ the WH,” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) tweeted.
Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Massachusetts) corrected Trump, saying that the AHCA was not “mean,” but “cruel.”
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said he agreed with Trump’s comments on healthcare during an interview on MSNBC.
“The bill is mean,” Schumer said. “The president’s right. It’s one of the few times I agree with him. I’m sure there are 217 Republicans – congressmen just squirming that they voted for a mean bill, and they know that’s going to be brought up to them in the campaigns in 2018.”
Schumer added that he would be willing to work with Trump on fixing the AHCA.
When asked to comment on Trump’s remarks during the meeting, AshLee Strong, Ryan’s spokeswoman said, “Congressional Republicans, with President Trump’s support, are working to repeal and replace this terrible Obamacare law that is harming Americans,” according to the Associated Press.
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The Senate is expected to rewrite much of the bill, increasing tax credits for low-income Americans. However, Trump reportedly told the senators who attended the meeting not to rush their draft of the bill.
“He wasn’t prescribing deadlines, because I think he recognized what happened in the House wasn’t good, and he wants to make sure that we have a process that proceeds in an orderly way,” Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) said, according to ABC News.