Trump calls Lee in bid to revive ObamaCare repeal bill

Trump calls Lee in bid to revive ObamaCare repeal bill
© Greg Nash

President Trump called Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOn The Money: Retirement savings bill blocked in Senate after fight over amendments | Stopgap bill may set up December spending fight | Hardwood industry pleads for relief from Trump trade war Retirement bill blocked in Senate amid fight over amendments Senators press NSA official over shuttered phone surveillance program MORE (R-Utah) on Tuesday in an effort to revive ObamaCare repeal legislation.

The call is a sign that Trump is still pushing forward on the repeal effort, despite indications that a repeal-only measure the Senate will vote on next week lacks the support to advance.

Trump is also hosting Senate Republicans at the White House for lunch on Wednesday to push them to pass repeal. 

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Lee announced his opposition to the revised Senate ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill, known as BCRA, on Monday. That move, along with Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranIt's time for Congress to establish a national mental health crisis number Overnight Defense: Top diplomat changes testimony to indicate quid pro quo | Dem offers measure on Turkish human rights abuses in Syria | Warren offers plan to address veteran suicide rates Senate bill takes aim at 'secret' online algorithms MORE's (R-Kan.) announcement of opposition, meant that the measure lacked the votes to pass. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Progressive veterans group launches campaign labeling Trump as a 'national security threat' GOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week MORE (R-Ky.) late Tuesday announced that he would now turn his attention to a bill from 2015 that would repeal ObamaCare with a delayed replacement.

The repeal-only measure next week is widely expected to fail, given that three moderate Republican senators have already announced their opposition to even taking it up for consideration.

Trump's call to Lee was first reported by The Washington Examiner. 

Lee opposed the Senate bill because he said a conservative amendment included in it, known as the Consumer Freedom Amendment, did not go far enough.

That amendment, backed by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump has officially appointed one in four circuit court judges On The Money: Retirement savings bill blocked in Senate after fight over amendments | Stopgap bill may set up December spending fight | Hardwood industry pleads for relief from Trump trade war Retirement bill blocked in Senate amid fight over amendments MORE (R-Texas), would have allowed insurers to sell plans that did not meet ObamaCare regulations, including mandates on what services must be covered, if the insurers also sold plans that did. 

Lee, though, objected that the measure still maintained a requirement that healthy and sick be grouped together in a "single risk pool," which he warned would undermine the effectiveness of the amendment, which is aimed at providing cheaper plans for younger and healthier people. 

Conn Carroll, a spokesman for Lee, said Trump's focus was on getting repeal done in some form. 

The Senate replacement bill, with a "full" Consumer Freedom Amendment, without the single risk-pool requirement, is one way to do that, Carroll said. 

However, moving the bill in that direction would likely lose support of more moderate Republicans, who already signaled they would oppose it.

McConnell cannot afford more than two defections and still pass a healthcare bill.