GOP rep: Once healthcare bill passes, lawmakers can 'really explain it'

Voter opposition to the Republican healthcare bill is the result of misunderstanding, and lawmakers will be able to "really explain it" once it becomes law, Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) said Thursday.

Collins was responding to a question by MSNBC anchor Brian Williams about whether he was prepared over Congress’s upcoming April recess to hear from constituents who may lose health coverage under the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

"In my district, right now there's a lot of misunderstanding as to what it is we're doing," the Collins said on MSNBC. "And once we get it done, and then we can have the chance to really explain it."

Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was famously excoriated by Republicans for her 2010 comments regarding ObamaCare that "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."

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The AHCA has received little support among voters, only 17 percent of whom approve of the measure, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. The recess, Collins said, would give congressional Republicans the opportunity to explain the measure in greater detail.

“We’re not making any fundamental changes until 2020, because we need a long glide path for the insurance companies to get together for the states — their health commissioners — to get their act together,” he said.

“And here we’ve got the [Congressional Budget Office] predicting we lose 14 million people with insurance next year. There’s not even any changes next year.”

House leaders postponed the floor vote on the bill on Thursday in the face of mounting GOP opposition and are expected to take up the measure on Friday. While it has the backing of Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanUnscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration MORE (R-Wis.) and President Trump, the bill is facing fierce opposition from conservative and some moderate Republican lawmakers — and united opposition from Democrats.

Collins is among the 91 GOP members of Congress firmly backing the bill. But Republicans can't afford more than 22 defections on the vote, and as of Friday morning 34 were opposed to the measure, while another eight were leaning toward a no vote.

Trump offered a sweeping ultimatum to lawmakers on Thursday night, telling them to vote on the measure Friday, or else he will leave ObamaCare in place — a threat that, if fulfilled, would break a major campaign promise by Republicans.

Collins framed the vote as a nod of approval to Trump and the fulfillment of the Republicans' seven-year vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

"At this point in time, it's a vote to support our president and all of our signature issues, or frankly it's a vote for Nancy Pelosi and maintaining ObamaCare, which is failing," he said.