President Donald Trump stepped up his pressure on Republican senators to pass a new healthcare bill during a speech before a gathering of so-called Obamacare “victims” at the White House on Monday.
Trump’s speech, which came a day before the Senate is scheduled to vote on a motion to proceed to debate on an Obamacare replacement bill, combined several of the administration’s tactics in pressuring lawmakers to pass new legislation.
The president pressured Republicans to uphold their campaign promises to repeal Obamacare, threatened that the healthcare system will eventually collapse if Obamacare is left in place, and claimed that the Republican replacement bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would lower premiums, increase flexibility for states, and more effectively protect poor Americans.;
“For Senate Republicans, this is their chance to keep their promise,” Trump continued. “Over and over again, they said repeal and replace, repeal and replace. But they can now keep their promise to the American people to provide emergency relief to those in desperate need of help and to improve healthcare for all Americans.”
Central to the GOP’s messaging surrounding their healthcare legislation is their assertion that Obamacare, former President Barack Obama’s signature legislation that is formally known as the Affordable Care Act, is a “disaster” and has “wreaked havoc” on American families, as Trump claimed on Monday. Trump has even said it would be “easier” for Republicans if they simply “let Obamacare fail” before drafting a replacement law.
But Trump’s overarching message is that keeping Obamacare in place will be devastating to the healthcare system and to Republicans politically. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “If Republicans don’t Repeal and Replace the disastrous ObamaCare, the repercussions will be far greater than any of them understand!”
“Obamacare is death,” Trump said, hammering home his argument that the law has hurt more Americans than it’s helped. “It’s broken, it’s collapsing, it’s gone. And now it’s up to us to get great healthcare for the American people.”
The president has openly threatened Republican lawmakers to support the Better Care Reconciliation Act – targeting Sen. Dean Heller, who has been critical of the bill, among others, through White House-approved attack ads and more direct warnings.
During his White House speech Monday, Trump framed the vote as a choice between Obamacare’s Democratic “architects” and “its forgotten victims,” and warned Republicans that a “no” vote would signal their support for the status quo.
“Any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America that you are fine with the Obamacare nightmare,” Trump said.