Presidential debate: Trump, Obama clash over health care

WASHINGTON — In addition to disputes over costs and insurance rates for Americans, the health care debate also features the most public duel yet between President Trump and predecessor Barack Obama — including an argument over the use of the word "mean."

"Well, he (Obama) used my term, 'mean,'" Trump said in an interview broadcast Sunday on Fox & Friends, adding that "I want to see a (health care) bill with heart."

Trump essentially confirmed that he previously denounced a House Republican health care as "mean," but said a Senate proposal on the floor is a better way to replace the existing Obamacare plan that he says is collapsing.

In a Facebook posting, Obama said Republican replacement health care plans "rushed through" the GOP-run House and Senate "would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it."

He added that "small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation."

The Republican Senate is pushing for a vote in the coming days on its health care plan. If it passes — and some GOP members are balking — it would have to be reconciled with the House bill.

The Trump-Obama debate is mirrored by lawmakers who took to the Sunday shows to discuss the health care imbroglio, including disputes within the Republican caucus.

Tom Price, Trump's secretary of Health and Human Services, told CNN's State of the Union that "our goal is to decrease premiums," though even a few Republicans have questioned whether this will happen under the proposed plans.

Republican opposition

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, one of at least five Senate Republicans who have voiced opposition to the bill pending in the chamber, has said "There isn't anything in this legislation that would lower premiums."

Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, a Republican primary opponent in 2016, also opposes the Senate plan, telling CNN that “the total number of dollars that are going to be dedicated to Medicaid are not enough."

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., another Republican who has yet to endorse the Republican plan, told NBC's Meet The Press that he wants to delay the whole thing: "There's no way we should be voting on this next week. No way."

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said on CBS' Face the Nation that he was undecided on the bill.

As Trump and Obama joust over the fate of the bill, the current president disputed the notion of his Fox News interviewer that his predecessor is "leading the resistance" to his administration.

"I don't think he's leading it," Trump said. "He actually just put out a small statement.  I don't see that leading it.  But other people are leading."

Instead, Trump attacked current lawmakers like Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts as "obstructionists."

Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, said he and his and colleagues are trying to block a health care plan that will hurt millions of Americans.

As Senate Republicans plan for a vote, Schumer told ABC's This Week that "I  think it’s 50-50" for passage.

"We are doing everything we can to fight this bill," Schumer said, "because it’s so devastating for the middle class."

Trump told Fox that health care is "a very complicated subject," and any changes will draw opposition from one group or another.

"And honestly," he said, "nobody can be totally happy, even without the votes.  Forget about votes, this has nothing to do with votes.  This has to do with picking a plan that everybody’s going to like.  I’d like to say love, but like."

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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