WASHINGTON — On Monday afternoon, Vice President Mike Pence held what the White House billed as a “listening session” in his ceremonial office with people who said they had negative experiences with Obamacare. Several members of the group delivered emotional pleas asking senators to approve the Republican health care bill that would replace Obamacare. Amid doubts that the bill will pass, Pence repeatedly told the group that “help is on the way.”
Pence was joined by presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, who referred to the group who shared their stories as Obamacare “victims.” According to a White House official, the people invited to the listening session were identified at “various health care events around the country that the vice president has participated in.” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma was also in attendance.
The event came amid questions about just how much the White House supports the Senate health care bill, which was largely authored by the office of GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Experts say the bill would cut Medicaid and raise deductibles, which would violate Trump’s campaign promises. This has led more moderate Republicans to hedge on whether they will back the legislation. Members of the party’s most conservative wing have also raised objections to the bill since it is not a full repeal of Obamacare.
McConnell has said he hopes to pass the bill in the Senate before the July 4 recess, which effectively means by Friday. But tepid support within the Republican Party has raised widespread doubts about whether the majority leader can get the 50 votes he needs.
Trump and the White House were closely associated with an earlier GOP health care bill in the House of Representatives. Polls shows that legislation, estimated to cut insurance coverage for 23 million people, was tremendously unpopular. Since holding a Rose Garden ceremony to celebrate passage of the House bill, Trump has…