The White House is pushing for a deal on health care
Republicans in Congress say they're getting confusing messages from Donald Trump
Republicans leaders are once again scrambling to take a vote this week to repeal Obamacare, with a whip count that remains precariously close.
Amid the frenzy, there are grumblings directed at the White House: President Donald Trump simply isn’t helping.
Trump, who as a presidential candidate campaigned on gutting the Affordable Care Act, has continued to add confusion to an already chaotic process with seemingly out-of-left-field comments about health care. His public remarks about protections for people with pre-existing conditions, in particular, have raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill.
“Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, ‘Has to be,’” Trump said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday.
In another interview with Bloomberg, Trump went as far as to claim that the GOP legislation “will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare.”
Those promises are squarely in tension with what health care experts say about the GOP proposal: insurers would be able to charge people with pre-existing conditions more for coverage, while states will be able to opt out of covering so-called “essential health benefits” mandated under Obamacare.
One key Republican source close to the health care process told CNN Tuesday morning that Trump’s comments about pre-existing conditions caused “confusion” among GOP members.
“We knew what he meant,” the source said. “But the uncertainty isn’t helpful.”
Meanwhile, the White House has continued to get ahead of GOP lawmakers on the timing of a potential vote.
The White House forcefully pushed for a health care vote before Trump’s 100-day mark in office last week. By the end of the week, GOP leaders had to acknowledge that the votes were once again not there.
This week, the pressure is once again coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Vice President Mike Pence is once again leading outreach efforts on the Hill. One senior administration official said they are hoping for a Thursday vote, and that they should know by the end of Tuesday whether that is possible.
A Republican close to the health care talks said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has been fielding calls from GOP lawmakers who have specific questions about the bill and what it means for their districts.
“The President can’t do this,” this Republican said. “This is fine print time.”
For his part, Trump expressed optimism – and again injected a sense of urgency – in remarks at the Rose Garden Tuesday afternoon.
“How’s health care coming, folks? How’s it going? Alright, we’re moving along?” Trump said. “I think it’s time, now. Right?”
CNN’s Jim Acosta and Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.