Trump turns up heat on House GOP before health care vote

President Donald Trump meets with truckers and industry CEOs regarding health care on March 23 in the White House. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)
President Donald Trump meets with truckers and industry CEOs regarding health care on March 23 in the White House. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)

President Trump put pressure on the House of Representatives to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) Friday morning as its prospects looked bleaker.

As expected, Trump bemoaned the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, claiming it sent premiums and deductibles skyrocketing and provided overall poor health care. He celebrated the anticipated House vote on the AHCA, expected Friday afternoon, as a chance to “finally” repeal and replace Obamacare.

But in an unusual maneuver, Trump preemptively criticized conservative members of his own party should they not pass the bill. In particular, he took aim at the Freedom Caucus, a hard-line conservative House group founded two years ago, suggesting that if its members were actually committed to outlawing abortion or defunding Planned Parenthood, they would back the AHCA.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price urged the House to pass the AHCA during an appearance on conservative-friendly “Fox & Friends.” He argued that proposals like the AHCA need support so that patients can make their own medical decisions rather than Washington, D.C.

“The president said yesterday, ‘Look, it’s time to put up your vote,’” he said. “We need to pass this again so we can move forward with the entire plan that will bring about that patient-centered health care. We need to do this to fulfill the president’s promise to the American people on the campaign, to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

The House had originally planned on voting on the AHCA Thursday, but it was postponed at the last minute when it appeared unclear whether the bill’s supporters would have enough votes to push it through. A frustrated Trump reportedly demanded that it be brought to a vote on Friday — or he would leave Obamacare in place.

Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, told CNBC that Trump delivered an ultimatum to House Republicans because he’s tired of drawn-out negotiations and nitpicking.

“This is not a politician. This is a businessman and he thinks the time has come for a vote,” Mulvaney said.

Earlier that day, Trump delivered a last-minute, 30-second pitch in which he derided Obamacare as a bundle of lies about lower prices and increased options, but said very little of the AHCA’s strengths.

“Go with our plan. It’s going to be terrific. You’re going to be very, very happy. Call your local representative. Call your senator. Let them know that you’re behind our plan,” Trump said.

Former President Barack Obama similarly released a statement Thursday defending the ACA ahead of the scheduled GOP alternative vote on Thursday. He argued that many Republican arguments against Obamacare are not supported by the facts and that health care should be a right for all Americans, not a privilege enjoyed by a few.

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