Sen. Graham: 'Just Let Obamacare Collapse'

By Susan Jones | March 24, 2017 | 10:11am EDT
Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney, right, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, depart after a Republican caucus meeting on Capitol Hill, Thursday, March 23, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

( - As Republicans prepare to vote on their health care bill, which does not fully repeal Obamacare, a number of Republicans say it's a mistake to put their names to the plan:

"Just let Obamacare collapse, then challenge the Democrats to come in and help us fix the mess they created," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News Friday morning, as lawmakers debated the latest iteration of the bill on the House floor.

"President Trump's going to be judged by the outcome of the legislation, and what I see in the House, I don't think this legislation is going to move the ball in the right direction."

President Donald Trump is insisting on a Friday vote, win or lose.

If the bill does not pass, the president has told lawmakers he'll move on to other agenda items.

Early Friday morning, Trump had a message for reluctant Republicans, many of them free-market conservatives who are focused on lowering the cost of insurance premiums:

"After seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!" the president tweeted.

And then, a second tweet: "The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!"

A Republican amendment offered late Thursday would repeal the Obamacare requirement that insurers must cover 10 specified services such as maternity and mental health care.

A vote on the Republican bill had been scheduled for late Thursday but was postponed after administration officials failed to bring conservative lawmakers on board.

It's still not clear if there are enough Republicans votes to pass the bill when it comes to the floor, at President Trump's insistence, later today.

Trump told lawmakers Thursday night he was finished negotiating. He said it's time to vote, and if the Republicans' repeal-and-replace plan fails to pass, he'll move on to other agenda items.

Conservative critics of the current plan say it doesn't fully repeal and it doesn't fully replace. The bill to be voted on Friday is just the first step in a three step process. The second step involves regulatory changes at the Health and Human Services Department, which are not binding on future administrations. The third step is stand-alone bills to create insurance buying pools and insurance sales across state lines, for instance.

Republicans would need Democrats' support for that crucial phase three.

Sen. Graham on Friday said the bill produced by the House "doesn't really make things a whole lot better," and it in some ways, it makes things worse:

"I don't understand it," he said. "They're threatening people to vote yes. They're bribing the New York delegation with Medicaid changes to vote yes. It sounds a lot like Obamacare.

"The one thing I can tell the Republican Party. None of us voted for Obamacare, but if you vote for the bill in the House, it becomes your bill; President Trump is behind this bill, it becomes Trump care."

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