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Former GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill

Former Sen. Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissFight for Senate majority boils down to Georgia Lobbying world GOP lobbyist tapped for White House legislative affairs MORE (R-Ga.) urged Senate Republican leaders on Tuesday to open up debate on their healthcare overhaul bill, saying they need to "let the Democrats engage" before trying to pass it.

"Let's put the bill on the floor, let's thoroughly debate it in the open before the American people, let's let them know what each side is talking about," Chambliss said on CNN's "New Day." "Let the Democrats engage. They've got some good ideas too, I'm sure. So let everybody engage in the process on the floor of the Senate."

Chambliss cast efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as necessary and said that doing otherwise would be doing the country a disservice. But he also acknowledged the hurdles that come along with healthcare reform.

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"Healthcare reform in its current state is one of the most difficult issues we've ever addressed from a policymaker standpoint," he said. "It was tough back in 2009, as you alluded to; it took almost a year to get it done. Remember, Democrats couldn't agree."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate approves two energy regulators, completing panel On The Money: Biden announces key members of economic team | GOP open to Yellen as Treasury secretary, opposed to budget pick | GAO: Labor Department 'improperly presented' jobless data Senate GOP open to confirming Yellen to be Biden's Treasury secretary MORE (R-Ky.) is reportedly aiming to hold a final vote on his Better Care Reconciliation Act this week.

But the measure has already raised concerns among some Republicans, five of whom have said they cannot vote for the bill in its current form.

Democrats have assailed McConnell for crafting the bill largely behind closed doors and have unanimously vowed to oppose the legislation.