WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – At least five Republican senators have publicly come out against parts of their party’s health care bill and that number is expected to soon grow, especially after the grim statistics from the Congressional Budget Office report.
Despite that, President Donald Trump said he remains optimistic.
In an interview with Fox and Friends Weekend, President Trump expressed confidence the Senate health care bill will pass, even though more and more Republicans say it’s no good in its current form.
“I think we’re gonna get it. We don’t have too much of a choice because the alternative is the dead carcass of Obamacare,” said Trump.
But the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate on the cost and impact of the bill isn’t doing the Republicans any favors.
According to the CBO report, the bill would result in 22 million more Americans going without coverage by 2026.
It’s only a slight improvement over the House version, which President Trump has described as “mean.”
“Well a CBO report is an accounting exercise, it’s based on assumptions, it makes an assumption that I think is flawed,” said Sen. Marco Rubio
Rubio isn’t buying the numbers even as protesters gather outside his office in Doral.
“I’m focused on Florida. Florida didn’t expand Medicaid, and Florida is already operating on a waiver,” he said.
Moderate Republicans have balked at the bill’s restrictions on federal funding for Medicaid, cuts which were downplayed by Presidential Counselor Kellyanne Conway.
“You keep calling them as cuts. But we don’t see them as cuts. It’s slowing the rate of growth in the future and getting Medicaid back to where it was,” she said.
“I have very serious concerns about the bill,” said Sen. Susan Collins from Maine.
She and Nevada’s Dean Heller argue that their states can’t make up for the reduced Medicaid funding. In Nevada alone, more than 200-thousand people gained coverage under Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.
“I’m telling you right now. I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes insurance away from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans,” said Heller.
According to the CBO, the biggest drop in coverage would come next year, when “15 million more people would be uninsured.” But that would come mostly because people who choose to go uninsured with Obamacare’s mandate gone.
Cuts to Medicaid and federal subsidies would also save federal dollars.
Republicans argue a market-based approach will lead to more choices and lower costs.
More conservative senators have argued that the bill doesn’t cut enough because it retains a good chunk of Obamacare’s tax credits which help people buy insurance.
“Realize that the Obamacare subsidies in this bill are actually greater under the Republican bill than they are under the current Obamacare law. That is not anywhere close to repeal,” said Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, one of the original Republicans to speak out against the plan.
The CBO projects that under the GOP plan, out of pocket spending on health care will go up even as, Democrats say, the wealthy’s taxes go down.
“The core of our bill was good and covered more people. The core of their bill is bad and covers less people and charges them more,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been pushing for a vote on the plan before the July 4 recess but some on Capitol Hill say that’s too soon.
“We don’t have enough information,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-WI. “We should not be voting on this next week.”
“I don’t know why the rush, I frankly, would like more days to consider this,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-LA.
Pennsylvania’s Sen. Pat Toomey, who helped write the bill, said waiting won’t make things better.
“I see this bill as a first step, a first important step in the direction of repealing those portions of Obamacare that we can,” he said.
With every Democrat expected to vote ‘NO’, Republicans can only afford to lose two votes to pass the bill.