Republicans on Sunday touted the GOP healthcare bill days after it narrowly passed the House, framing the plan as a “rescue mission” for the “collapsing” ObamaCare.
Members of President Trump’s administration and GOP House leaders were out in force praising the plan and commending the president for keeping his promises to the American people. Meanwhile, Republican senators were somewhat more cautious on the House victory, expressing reservations and tempering expectations.
After the healthcare plan narrowly passed the House last week, Trump and House Republicans took a victory lap during an event at the White House Rose Garden. Senate Republicans plan to dramatically overhaul the House’s ObamaCare replacement plan and have raised concerns about aspects of the bill, but Republicans appearing on media Sunday made it clear that overall they count the bill’s passage as a win.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the GOP’s healthcare plan is a “rescue mission to make sure that we can achieve the goals we all want.”
“Which is getting the cost of coverage down, and making sure that everyone has access to affordable healthcare, especially including people with pre-existing conditions,” he said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” “That is what our bill does.”
He said Republicans are looking to step “in front of this collapsing law,” referring to former President Obama’s signature healthcare legislation, ObamaCare.
Republicans want to “make sure that we can have a system that works,” Ryan said. “A system with choice and competition and affordable premiums.”
Multiple GOP leaders pushed back on specific criticism that the bill lacked protections for people with pre-existing conditions, with Ryan saying there are “multiple layers of protections.”
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on Sunday also sought to put to rest concerns for Americans with pre-existing conditions.
“If you have a pre-existing condition, this president is not going to let you down,” Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday.”
He said the new healthcare bill wouldn’t affect Americans with pre-existing conditions if their health insurance coverage is through their employers, if they have continuous coverage or if they have Medicare or Medicaid.
Republicans put “billions upon billions of dollars into high-risk pools to buy down any premium that they would have to pay for, and that’s just in the House bill,” Priebus said.
Similarly, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on NBC’s “Meet the Press” said the new legislation is a “different way” to take care of people with pre-existing conditions.
Ryan on ABC also dismissed specific critiques that the House had rushed the proposal through before all members had a chance to read the whole bill and before the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) could release an updated analysis of the plan.
“I think this is kind of a bogus attack from the left,” Ryan said. “The bill has been online for two months. The final version was an amendment that was three pages long. It takes you 30 seconds to read.”
The GOP has been facing criticism similar to their own against ObamaCare in 2009. Ryan in 2009 wrote in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that “members of Congress who voted for this bill already in their committees did so without knowing what the legislation costs.”
Ryan said the Republican bill had received two scores from the CBO and the final amendment wasn’t going to “dramatically alter” that score.
Priebus, on message, reiterated on FOX that ObamaCare is “collapsing” and said the Senate can make updates to the bill that passed the House.
“We also believe it is up to the Senate, if there are improvements to be made, to make those improvements,” Priebus said.
Everyone is “committed to getting this thing done, and getting it done as soon as possible,” he said. He expressed confidence in the group of 12 senators working to improve the measure, saying they are all “very mature” and “know the commitments we’ve made to the American people to repeal and replace a failing program and ObamaCare.”
White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney also said the bill will likely face changes when it goes to the Senate, speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He urged people to reserve judgment on what the president will or won’t sign until they know what is in front of him.
“The bill that passed out of the House is most likely not going to be the bill that is put in front of the president,” the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget said. “The Senate will have their chance to change the bill, improve the bill.”
He went on to tout the new healthcare proposal as “sustainable.”
Price on Sunday echoed some of the same sentiments, saying the president is “absolutely” keeping his promises to the American people on healthcare so everyone can be “covered in a way that they want,” he said on NBC.
Price also said Medicaid will also be “more responsive” to its users.
The GOP bill repeals the Medicaid expansion implemented under ObamaCare and cuts hundreds of millions of dollars from the program, according to the CBO.
While House Republicans defended their version of the legislation as solid, Republican members of the Senate indicated it might take some time for the healthcare legislation to make its way through the upper chamber.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Sunday said the upper chamber is “starting from scratch” and will “draft our own bill.”
“I’m convinced that we’re going to take the time to do it right,” Collins said on ABC’s “This Week,” adding that the Senate will come up with a “whole new fresh approach” that solves the “legitimate flaws that do exist” with ObamaCare.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said the Senate will wait for the CBO to score the new GOP healthcare legislation before proceeding with a vote.
“The Senate’s going to have to have the kind of score they need to move this forward and the Senate’s going to be looking at this to see what we can do to take the House work, look at what the House did, look at what we can do to improve that in our view,” Blunt told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
He said the Senate will likely need to go back to the House after working on its own version of the bill.
The president said last week the GOP healthcare bill could “change a little bit” as it goes to the Senate for a vote.
“It could be maybe even better,” he said. “It’s a very good bill right now.”
On Sunday morning, he said he’s sure Republican senators will uphold their promises regarding healthcare.
“Republican Senators will not let the American people down!” the president tweeted. “ObamaCare premiums and deductibles are way up – it was a lie and it is dead!”