President Trump during a closed-door meeting with a group of GOP senators on Tuesday called the House-approved American Health Care Act "mean, mean, mean" and said, "We need to be more generous, more kind," two GOP congressional sources told the Associated Press.
Trump's comments, AP reports, mark a significant shift from his prior public comments regarding the bill. During a Rose Garden ceremony after the bill's passage in the House on May 4, Trump called it "a great plan."
The two GOP congressional sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Trump called the House bill "mean, mean, mean" and said, "We need to be more generous, more kind." They said, however, that the president did not specify what provisions of the bill he was referring to.
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment on the meeting, saying, "We don't comment on rumors or private conversations."
When asked to comment on Trump's remarks, AshLee Strong, spokesperson for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said, "Congressional Republicans, with President Trump's support, are working to repeal and replace this terrible Obamacare law that is harming Americans."
Other meeting details
Separately, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said during the meeting with Trump, senators discussed an effort Thune is spearheading to increase tax credits to help low-income and older individuals purchase coverage in the Senate's bill.
Thune added that the issue of the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing payments for insurers " got raised and I think he's open to suggestions.
Thune said Trump did not detail any specific health care reform policies he would like to see in the Senate's version.
According to The Hill, it is unclear whether Trump's comments about the House bill will have an effect on the GOP senators' ongoing efforts to craft their own bill. Thune recently estimated about 80 percent of the Senate's bill would be the same as the House's measure.
GOP senators have set an unofficial deadline to bring the bill to the floor for a vote before Congress' July 4 recess. However, progress has been stymied by disagreements among conservative and moderate GOP senators over Medicaid, essential health benefits insurers must cover, and other major policy issues. Moderates want to rein in some of the ACA reforms outlined in the House bill to reduce the number of individuals who would become uninsured, while some conservative GOP senators have said the House bill does not go far enough in reducing federal costs (Fram, AP/Los Angeles Times, 6/13; Sullivan, The Hill, 6/13; Collins, USA Today, 6/13).
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