Obama slams 'fundamental meanness' of Senate healthcare bill

Former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama to visit Kenya, South Africa for Obama Foundation in July Overnight Energy: EPA declines to write new rule for toxic spills | Senate blocks move to stop Obama water rule | EPA bought 'tactical' pants and polos Clarifying the power of federal agencies could offer Trump a lasting legacy MORE on Thursday blasted Senate Republican leaders' plan to overhaul large parts of his signature healthcare legislation, ObamaCare.

"The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill," he wrote in a Facebook post. "It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.

"Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm," Obama wrote. "And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation."

In the scathing post, the former president warned Republican lawmakers against acting too quickly to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.

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"I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party," Obama wrote. "Still, I hope that our senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did."  

Obama's comments came hours after Senate GOP leaders unveiled their version of bill to repeal and replace large parts of the ACA. House Republicans passed their version of the bill early last month.

The Senate plan calls for deep cuts to Medicaid, ends ObamaCare's individual mandate to purchase health insurance and defunds Planned Parenthood for a year.

Obama’s assertion of the bill’s “meanness” echoes remarks from President Trump, who reportedly told GOP senators at a meeting last week that the House measure was “mean” and that the Senate bill should be more generous. 

In public, Trump has praised the House bill and touted its passage. 

Speaking at the White House Thursday shortly after the Senate bill was released, Trump said it needed to be “negotiated” in order to pass a healthcare plan “with heart.” 

“ObamaCare is dead and we're putting a plan out today that is going to be negotiated,” Trump said. “We will hopefully get something done, and it will be something with heart and very meaningful.”

The Affordable Care Act was among Obama’s most significant accomplishments during his eight years in office. Republicans have long vowed to repeal the measure, which they argue has caused insurance premiums to skyrocket and has deprived Americans of coverage in large swaths of the country. 

Republican efforts to overhaul the healthcare system have faced scrutiny of their own. 

A Congressional Budget Office assessment last month estimated that under the House bill — the American Health Care Act — 23 million more people would become uninsured over the next decade.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Tuesday put support for the House measure at only 16 percent.

 

Senate GOP leaders have come under fire for largely crafting the bill behind closed doors.

- This story was updated at 4:35 p.m.