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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he is confident the U.S. Senate will join the House in repealing and replacing Obamacare.
“Republican Senators will not let the American people down,” Trump tweeted Sunday, days after the House voted to replace the Affordable Care Act – the health care law that was among Barack Obama’s proudest achievements when president.
But a moderate Republican senator – whose vote is crucial to both sides in the debate – says the Senate will not even consider the new Trump health care bill.
“The Senate is starting from scratch,” Maine’s Susan Collins said Sunday. “We’re going to draft our own bill. And I’m convinced that we’re going to take the time to do it right,” she told ABC television’s This Week.
No debate on cost, flaws
Collins, along with many critics of the House bill, are angered that Republicans pushed it through without the usual non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s cost analysis.
There were also no hearings on the new bill which would have pointed out its perceived flaws.
They include a provision allowing states to charge more for people with preexisting conditions.
“That coverage might well be unfavorable,” Collins said. “And if the coverage is unfavorable, that doesn’t do any good for a child who has juvenile diabetes and is going to have that her entire life.”
But Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price defended the Republican-led bill on NBC-TV’s Meet the Press as being more affordable than Obamacare and one that will not leave anyone behind.
‘A better way’
“The goal is to have the kind of insurance [Americans] want, not that government forces them to buy … this is different. We believe it’s a better way to cover those with pre-existing conditions” that are often costly to treat.
The House narrowly passed the new health care bill 217 to 213. No Democrats voted for it and 20 Republicans opposed it.
Democrats, many of whom are appalled at what they believe was solely Republican zeal to give Trump a legislative win, say the Obamacare replacement will leave millions without insurance.
But Trump declared Obamacare dead. He has called it a “disaster” with rising premiums and high deductibles.
If the Senate passes its own version of a new health care bill, committees from both houses must meet to put together a single bill that can get passed in the Senate and House of Representatives, and one that President Trump would sign.