| WASHINGTON, June 13
WASHINGTON, June 13 U.S. President Donald Trump
invited 13 Republican senators to lunch on Tuesday to discuss
the status of repealing and replacing Obamacare, a White House
official said, as Senate Republicans struggled to produce
legislation doing just that.
Trump stepped up pressure for the repeal with a tweet
Tuesday morning declaring that the Affordable Care Act,
nicknamed Obamacare, "is in a death spiral." He cited the
government's announcement Monday that some two million enrollees
who signed up for Obamacare have dropped out this year.
Although Trump's Republican party has a majority in both
houses of Congress, Trump blamed the lack of progress in
repealing President Barack Obama's signature domestic
achievement on "obstructionist" Democrats.
The House of Representatives narrowly approved its version
of repeal last month, but Senate Republicans have been unable to
coalesce around their own version of a bill, with moderates and
conservatives pushing in different directions in meetings behind
The group of 13 senators that Trump invited to lunch
includes Republicans from both ideological camps: moderate
Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski were on the list, as
well as conservative Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said senators are
closer to bringing up a proposal, and other Republicans have
predicted for some time that a bill would be ready for a vote
before the August recess.
One of the senators invited to Tuesday's lunch, Finance
Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, said late on Monday he did not
expect a Senate healthcare bill to be unveiled this week.
"I think we've got a little ways to go," he told reporters.
"There's a lot of things that have to be resolved."
One of the key issues is the fate of the expansion of
Medicaid, the healthcare program for the poor, under the
Affordable Care Act.
Senators from states that expanded Medicaid are seeking a
“glide path” that would phase out the additional federal funding
for the program over a period of seven years starting in 2020,
instead of the abrupt cutbacks in the federal funding starting
in 2020 that are called for under the House bill.
But conservatives would prefer less, and Senate leadership
has suggested a three-year phase-out of Medicaid expansion.
"Nothing been nailed down on that, so everything's still on
the table," Senator Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia, one of
the states that expanded Medicaid, said on Monday.
(Additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Bernadette