Trump scrambles for GOP health votes; budget score looms

Senate Republicans skeptical about a GOP health overhaul bill are expressing some doubt about holding a vote this week as they await a key analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. President Donald Trump, making a final push to fulfill a key campaign promise, insists Republicans are not “that far off” and signaled last-minute changes are coming to win votes.

“We have a very good plan,” Trump said in an interview aired Sunday. Referring to Republican senators opposed to the bill, he added: “They want to get some points, I think they’ll get some points.”

So far, five Republican senators are expressing opposition to the Senate GOP plan that would scuttle much of former President Barack Obama’s health law. That’s more than enough to torpedo the measure developed in private by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and deliver a bitter defeat for the president.

The holdouts are expressing willingness to negotiate, but many of them are pushing revisions that could risk alienating moderate Republicans in the process.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said seven to eight additional senators including herself were troubled by provisions in the Senate bill that she believes could cut Medicaid for the poor even more than the House version. Collins, who also opposes proposed cuts to Planned Parenthood, said she was awaiting the CBO analysis before taking a final position. But she said it will be “extremely difficult” for the White House to be able to find a narrow path to attract both conservatives and moderates.

The CBO cost estimate, including an analysis on the number of people likely to be covered, is expected to be released as early as Monday.

“It’s hard for me to see the bill passing this week,” Collins said.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., one of the five senators opposing the bill, said he also wants to review the CBO score.

“I would like to delay,” he said. “These bills aren’t going to fix the problem. They’re not addressing the root cause,”…

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