House Speaker Paul Ryan on Sunday continued an aggressive campaign to bring Republicans in line to save his party’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.
The House plan to repeal and replace the health law better known as Obamacare has been met with opposition from Republicans in Congress, as well as conservative groups, including Breitbart, Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s news site, which referred to the Republican bill as Obamacare 2.0.
“I believe we can get 51 votes out of the Senate,” Ryan told CBS’ John Dickerson on “Face the Nation” Sunday. Ryan sought to downplay the significance of the opposition so far, calling it par for the course. The debates of the bill, he says, are typical “negotiations and compromises.”
From the left, the Republicans are facing criticism over how many people will lose coverage under the proposed plan. The Congressional Budget Office has not yet released its estimate, but last week the Brookings Institution put the number likely to become uninsured at 15 million. Ryan said that he “can’t answer” how many will lose coverage under the new plan.
Meanwhile, Tom Cotton, the Republican from Arkansas, on ABC’s “This Week,” expressed his concerns about the bill. “I’m afraid that if they vote for this bill, they’re going to put the House majority at risk next year,” he said.
Cotton drew on the Democrats’ loss of control of government in 1994 after House Democrats voted in favor of President Bill Clinton’s proposed B.T.U. tax — a proposed tax on the burning of fuels — a lesson he thinks Republicans should keep in mind as they vote on the repeal-and-replace plan. The tax, unpopular with voters, didn’t pass the Senate, but some of the house Democrats associated with it lost their seats in the midterms over it anyway, Cotton said.
The director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, is rallying support for the bill while inviting changes to it. He said on ABC’s “This Week” that the plan is “a really nice framework” but the White House is “open to talking about” modifications. “If the House thinks they can make it a little better, if the Senate thinks they can make it a little better,” he added, “we are open to talking about those types of things.”
Mulvaney stressed that the new plan is about care rather than coverage. Though people are covered under Obamacare, Mulvaney argued on “This Week,” they can’t afford the care. So even if people lose coverage, Mulvaney’s argument goes, those who do choose to insure themselves will have affordable, quality care.
The health bill is an early test of the Trump administration’s ability to influence Congress. Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price carried forth the administration’s view. “I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we’re going through,” Price said when questioned on the efficacy of the proposal by NBC’s Chuck Todd. “They’ll have choices that they can select the kind of coverage they want for themselves and for their family, not the government forcing them to buy.”
Among those who wanted a “clean repeal” of Obamacare is Rand Paul, who calls the new plan “Obamacare lite.” “Right now I think there’s a charm offensive going on — everybody’s being nice to everybody because they want us to vote for this, but we’re not going to vote for it,” the Kentucky senator said on “Face the Nation.”
Later on “Meet the Press,” former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who served under President Obama, said the GOP’s healthcare plan does “serious damage to the whole marketplace theory.”
“There is no estimate in looking at this bill that in less money going to subsidies, with older Americans being able to be charged five times what younger Americans are being charged and with no variation based on income, that more people will have coverage,” she said.