Obama expresses frustration over GOP repeal effort

Former President Obama on Wednesday said it is “aggravating” to continually fend off Republican attempts to repeal his signature healthcare law.

He said the Republican effort would raise costs, reduce coverage and roll back protections for vulnerable Americans. 

“When I see people trying to undo that hard-won progress for the 50th or 60th time … it is aggravating,” he said at an event in New York sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

It’s the first time the former president has weighed in since Senate Republicans renewed their push to wipe out the Affordable Care Act. 

Obama acknowledged the situation “frustrates” him, but called on supporters to push back against the new legislation.

“It’s certainly frustrating to have to mobilize every couple of months to keep our leaders from inflicting real human suffering on our constituents,” he said. “But typically, that’s how progress is won and how progress is maintained.”

Senate Republican leaders are moving to hold a vote next week on a proposal written by Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidySenators ask CBO to review options for preventing surprise medical bills Five things to watch for in Trump's 2020 budget Overnight Health Care - Presented by Kidney Care Partners - FDA chief Scott Gottlieb resigns | House Dems to take up drug pricing bills next week | Planned Parenthood, doctors group sue over Trump abortion rule MORE (R-La.) that would roll back key provisions of ObamaCare. 

Graham fired back at Obama in a statement, saying it's "unrealistic to expect President Obama would acknowledge his signature issue is failing."

“It’s no surprise President Obama opposes sending money and power back to the states and closer to where the patients live. Obamacare was designed with the exact opposite goal in mind — which is to consolidate health care power and decision-making in Washington." 

The legislation would cut off federal funding for the law’s expansion of Medicaid and subsidies to help people purchase insurance coverage, while block granting the money to states. It would also repeal ObamaCare’s mandates and create a waiver program for states seeking to bypass the law’s regulations.

Since leaving office eight months ago, Obama has seldom jumped into the partisan political fray. But he has weighed in several times against President Trump’s efforts to roll back his core policies. 

The former president blasted the previous Senate GOP-backed repeal bill over the summer, calling it “a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.” 

- This story was updated at 3:39 p.m.