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Audit: Bill erasing but not replacing much of health care law would mean 32M more uninsured

by The Associated Press | July 19, 2017 at 10:01 a.m. | Updated July 19, 2017 at 5:29 p.m.
President Donald Trump points to a member of the audience before being introduced during a "Made in America," product showcase featuring items created in each of the U.S. 50 states, at the White House, Monday, July 17, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

5:27 P.M. UPDATE:

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Republican bill erasing but not replacing much of President Barack Obama's health care law would mean an additional 32 million uninsured people by 2026.

The report from Congress' nonpartisan budget analyst says the measure would cause average premiums for people buying their own health insurance to double by 2026.

It also says that by that same year, three-fourths of Americans would live in regions without any insurers selling policies to individuals.

The report was released as Senate leaders consider a vote next week on legislation repealing Obama's law but not replacing it.

Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

EARLIER:

WASHINGTON — Lecturing fellow Republicans, President Donald Trump summoned GOP senators to the White House on Wednesday and told them face-to-face they must not leave town for their August recess without sending him an "Obamacare" repeal bill to sign.

"I'm ready to act," Trump said. During last year's presidential campaign he had said repeatedly that it would be "so easy" to get rid of the Obama law.

Trump's comments Wednesday came just a day after the latest GOP health care plan collapsed in the Senate, leading Trump to say it was time to simply let President Barack Obama's health care law fail. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had indicated he was prepared to stick a fork in the Republican bill and move on to other issues, including overhauling the tax code.

But later Trump pressured McConnell to delay the key vote until next week, and he invited Republican senators to the White House for lunch.

There, with the cameras rolling in the State Dining Room, Trump spoke at length as he cajoled, scolded and issued veiled threats to his fellow Republicans.

"For seven years you promised the American people that you would repeal Obamacare. People are hurting. Inaction is not an option, and frankly I don't think we should leave town unless we have a health insurance plan," he said.

Seated next to Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, who is vulnerable in next year's midterm elections, Trump remarked: "He wants to remain a senator, doesn't he?"

Two different versions of repeal-and-replace legislation fell short of votes before coming to the floor, pushing McConnell to announce Monday night that he would retreat to a repeal-only bill that had passed Congress when Obama was in office.

Yet almost as soon as that plan was unveiled it, too, was killed off as three GOP senators, one more than McConnell can afford to lose in the narrowly divided Senate, announced opposition.

In his comments at the White House lunch Trump was back to supporting repeal and replace legislation, not just repeal.

"We have no choice, we have to repeal and replace Obamacare," Trump said. "We can repeal it, but the best is repeal and replace."

As Chuck Grassley of Iowa got on board the bus that would ferry senators to the Trump lunch, he tweeted: "I'm eager to replace Obamacare and I'm the first one on the bus to the Whitehouse to find the magic to get to 'yes.'"

The three senators who are publicly opposed to moving forward on the repeal-only bill are Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

Asked before the lunch if there was anything the president could say to change her mind, Capito said: "I think he just needs to see where the differences are — again."

The lunch came some 24 hours after Trump appeared to write the whole effort off entirely, telling reporters: "I think we're probably in that position where we'll just let Obamacare fail. We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you that the Republicans are not going to own it. We'll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us and they're going to say, 'How do we fix it?'"

Many Republicans support the repeal-only approach that McConnell plans to try to bring up for a vote next week, and they questioned how senators who voted for that idea two years ago could oppose it now.

Murkowski told reporters that repealing the Affordable Care Act without the promise of a replacement would cause uncertainty and chaos. She suggested a better approach might be to go back to the committee room and work on a bipartisan basis "in a way that the public feels that we are really working toward their best interests."

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