Some GOP lawmakers believe President Trump will be the driving force behind unifying conservatives now threatening to oppose an Obamacare replacement plan.

“I absolutely believe the bully pulpit will work,” said Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., a member of the GOP leadership team and the House Energy and Commerce panel, which is drafting an Obamacare replacement plan. “It may be up to President Trump to sell the ultimate plan to some fence sitters. I think that is true.”

Trump will address a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, and healthcare reform, one of his major campaign promises, is certain to be a central element of his speech.

“#Obamacare has failed. We are going to #RepealAndReplace!” Trump tweeted Monday.

Trump has already played a major role in shaping the GOP’s Obamacare repeal effort, in part by using twitter and the media to push for a simultaneous replacement plan that Republicans have now included in their proposal.

The political stakes are very high for Trump and Republicans, who made campaign pledges to repeal the healthcare law and replace it with lower-cost, patient-centered options. Collins said the public is expecting Trump and Congress to act and that alone will help push GOP opponents to support the proposal.

“We have to pass it,” Collins said. “If we don’t pass fundamental healthcare reform… and we go to the voting booths in the mid terms, it’s not going to be a pretty sight.”

The House is expected in the next week or two to begin marking up a measure to repeal and partly replace Obamacare with block grants and tax credits paid for with a tax increase on employer-sponsored plans.

But the draft proposal has already attracted enough opposition to sink it from the most conservative GOP faction, the House Freedom Caucus, who believe it will create a new entitlement program and will result in higher costs for some health insurance subscribers.

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“It’s not what we talked about for six years,” Rep. Dave Brat, R-VA., an HFC member who opposes the plan, told the Washington Examiner. Brat called the GOP plan, “the same ‘ol, same ‘ol.”

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., the state’s former governor, said he has serious doubts about whether he can support the GOP healthcare reform plan because it calls for replacing means-tested subsidies with tax credits that would be available evenly to across all income levels, including the wealthy.

“I think it opens up a Pandora’s box on what comes next on healthcare,” Sanford said, adding he will oppose the plan, “in its present form.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., appeared unconcerned Tuesday when reporters asked him about the significant GOP opposition.

“Well, look, I think you’re going to have a lot of churning on any kind of legislative product like this,” Ryan said. “This is a plan that we are all working on together; the House, the Senate, the White House. So there aren’t rival plans here. We’re all working on this together with the administration.”

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Much of the legwork on drafting a proposal is taking place in the Energy and Commerce panel’s health subcommittee.

Rep. Larry Buschon, R-Ind., a member of the subcommittee, said the full GOP conference will take part in a healthcare planning meeting on Thursday, where they will get more details about the draft proposal.

“Speaker Ryan and others are working with all the members of our conference to get people to a point where they are comfortable with the healthcare replacement plan,” Buschon told the Washington Examiner.

Collins said opponents to the plan will eventually support it because the alternative is much worse.


“The bottom line is, we go down in flames if we don’t get this done,” Collins said.



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