Trump says health care bill needs 'a little negotiation'

By Dan Merica

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Donald Trump said Thursday "a little negotiation" is needed to add more heart to the "very good" health care bill, as Senate Republicans finally publicly released their legislation.

Trump has irked some Republicans by arguing the Senate bill needs more funding and "heart," suggesting the House bill was not compassionate enough to people who rely on health care.

On Thursday, asked by reporters whether the released bill meets his "heart" standard, Trump said it will take "a little negotiation, but it's going to be very good."

"I am very supportive of the Senate #HealthcareBill. Look forward to making it really special! Remember, ObamaCare is dead," he tweeted later in the day.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that the White House intends to be involved in those negotiations, despite the largely hands off approach Trump has personally taken in the crafting of the Senate bill.

"This is a negotiation between the House and Senate and we're going to play a role in that," said Sanders during an off-camera briefing at the White House.

Sanders said Trump has not weight any specific policy proposal against another or whether the President has updated his campaign pledge not to cut Medicaid, something the Senate bill does.

Senate Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, released their so-far largely private health care bill online on Thursday. Though the bill was written by leadership in the Senate, the moment marks the first time most of Senate Republican caucus -- and all of the Democrats -- have seen the health care proposal.

McConnell is pressing for a vote next week, even though he can only afford to lose two Republicans in order to pass the measure.

The bill is similar to the House version, which was passed in May to much fanfare. The bill repeals the Obamacare individual mandate, cuts back support for Medicaid and eliminates Obamacare taxes on wealthy Americans and insurers.

Those similarities could make it easier for Republicans in the Senate and House when they begin negotiations on one, unified bill that would head to the President's desk.

But Trump has made a slight about-face about health care reform since cheering the House bill during a Rose Garden ceremony. During a private meeting with Senate Republicans earlier this month, Trump called the Senate proposal "mean," according to sources in the room, urging senators to pour more money into the proposal.

Not only did the suggestion irk Republicans because of its implication of callousness, but Trump's suggestion would also put the bill at risk of violating Senate rules.

Trump echoed these calls on Thursday at a campaign rally in Iowa.

"I hope we are going to surprise you with a really good plan," Trump said in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "I've been talking about a plan with heart. I said, 'Add some money to it!' "


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