President Trump tried to whip Senate Republicans back into line to support their proposed health care plan — even singling out one vulnerable GOPer with a thinly veiled threat — as the government warned a straight repeal of Obamacare would leave 32 million more Americans without insurance.
“I’m ready to act,” Trump said on-camera to Senate Republicans who had gathered at the White House for lunch yesterday. “For seven years, you promised the American people that you’d 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.”
U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nevada), a critic of the GOP health care plan who was seated next to the president, then said something inaudible, prompting Trump to turn and tease him.
“This was the one we were worried about,” said Trump, pointing to Heller. “Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he? OK? And I think the people of your state, which I know very well, I think they’re going to appreciate what you hopefully will do.”
Trump and Heller laughed off the exchange, but it still sent the message to on-the-fence Republicans that the president may deliver political payback on the campaign trail.
Heller may be the most vulnerable GOP senator facing re-election next year.
He already has a Democratic challenger — U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen — and a primary opponent from within the GOP isn’t out of the question. A recent poll showed a Heller-Rosen hypothetical matchup razor-thin.
Heller is also the only Senate Republican incumbent running in a state where Hillary Clinton defeated Trump at the polls last fall.
Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office predicted yesterday that a straight repeal of Obamacare — with no replacement — would create an additional 32 million uninsured Americans by 2026. Average premiums of people buying their own insurance would double, and three-quarters of Americans would live in regions with no insurers selling policies to individuals, also by 2026, the CBO determined.
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