The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Yes, Trump definitely called the Republicans’ health-care bill ‘mean’

In words and, of course, in tweets, President Trump has showered praise on Republicans' efforts to replace Obamacare with their own health-care bill.

When the GOP bill squeaked through the House in May, Trump held a televised celebration in the White House Rose Garden and said in front of the cameras, “We're going to get this passed through the Senate — I'm so confident. He also bragged that the bill had “really brought the Republican Party together.”

But privately, in off-camera meetings with Republicans, he used a different word to describe the bill: mean.

Trump's concise critique of the bill has been a not-so-closely guarded secret over the past few weeks, but during an interview Sunday aired on "Fox and Friends," he confirmed that he had used the m-word.

Democrats have widely lampooned the bill, including former president Barack Obama, who also spoke of the bill's "fundamental meanness." He said the Republicans' proposed legislation hurts the poor and those with preexisting conditions.

But on Sunday, Trump said the language was his originally his, not his predecessor's.

“He used my term: ‘mean,’ ” Trump told “Fox and Friends.”

“That was my term, because I want to see — and I speak from the heart — that’s what I want to see. I want to see a bill with heart.”

And with that, Trump's “mean” comment went from being a well-sourced report to confirmed fact.

Can Trump keep his health care promises and close a deal with Congress? (Video: Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post's Kelsey Snell and Sean Sullivan first reported that Trump had referred to the bill as “mean” this month after speaking with Republicans familiar with the gathering.

Trump's contradictory statements about the bill — a saving grace for America one moment and “mean” the next — mirror the split among Senate Republicans about how to improve health care in the United States.

As Snell and Sullivan wrote, some GOP members want to send a message via a wholesale repeal of Obamacare. Others want to cobble together a more passable bill with modest changes:

But those changes risk alienating conservatives who are under intense pressure from voters and outside groups to demand a more forceful repeal of the law known as Obamacare.
A growing number of conservatives, including Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have been calling on Senate leaders to maintain House-passed reforms, including a waiver that could allow insurers to charge more for people with preexisting conditions. They argue that waiving those requirements would allow states to offer cheap, bare-bones plans and drive down the cost of premiums across the individual insurance markets.

Although Trump has been adamant about repealing Obamacare, he hasn't been as hard-line as some in his party — especially when it comes to covering poor people and people with preexisting conditions.

And as The Post's Paige Winfield Cunningham reported, Trump has held views on health care that were at odds with those of most Republicans.

In his book “The America We Deserve,” he lauded Canada's single-payer system. He has also publicly praised Australia's universal health-care system, Cunningham reported.

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