Trump urges senators to get moving on healthcare

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President Trump urged a group of Republican senators to pass an ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill at a meeting at the White House Tuesday but did not set a firm deadline, senators said. 

“His message was that there’s a sense of urgency about this,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) after the meeting. “We can’t afford to fail; we’ve got to get it done, and he’s certainly fine with the Senate taking a different direction than what the House [did].”

Thune said Trump did not lay out policy specifics of what he’d like to see in the bill, nor did he set a deadline.

After the White House pressured the House to vote quickly in a tense process, Thune said Senate Republicans were looking to avoid similar missteps.

{mosads}Thune said the Senate did not want to encounter a “false deadline and not be able to meet it and all the publicity that would go with that.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who has been more wary of Medicaid cuts than some other Republicans, said Trump did not try to pressure him to support a specific bill. 

“He just mostly listened,” Portman said.

Asked if any differences were resolved in the meeting, which included centrists such as Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and more conservative members, Portman said, “No, but that wasn’t the purpose of it.”

One issue that did come up was the funding of ObamaCare payments to insurers known as cost-sharing reductions. Trump has previously threatened to cut off the payments as a way to bring about the collapse of the healthcare law. Some Republican lawmakers want to fund the payments to ensure stability, though. 

“That issue got raised and I think he’s open to suggestions,” Thune said of Trump. “We had some of our members that brought that up.”

Thune said the group also discussed an effort he is leading to increase the tax credits in the bill to give more assistance to low-income and older people than the House bill did. 

“The president is very interested in getting a health reform bill through the Senate and he wants us to get moving on it,” Thune said. 

Tags John Thune Rob Portman Susan Collins

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