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Demonstrators hold signs during a healthcare rally opposing the American Health Care Act (AHCA) bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, June 21, 2017.
President Donald Trump’s effort to roll back Obamacare faced growing obstacles on Monday as Republicans who control the U.S. Senate remained sharply divided over how to keep down the costs of their health-care bill and prevent millions from losing coverage.
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus told “Fox News Sunday” that Trump, who made repeal and replacement of Obamacare a central plank of his 2016 campaign, still expected the Senate to pass a health-care bill either before the scheduled start of Congress’ August recess “or maybe a little bit into” the recess.
Other Republicans voiced pessimism.
“My view is that it’s probably going to be dead,” Senator John McCain of Arizona said of the health-care legislation on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”
Some conservative senators, such as Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, have said they cannot support the proposal unless it goes further to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is weighing how to shore up support for the health-care bill, which would repeal parts of Obamacare, former Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, and get rid of tax increases that fund it.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives in May passed its own version of a bill overhauling health care.
McConnell warned at a luncheon in his home state of Kentucky last week that if Republicans were unable to pass their own replacement bill, they might need to work with Democrats to bolster the insurance markets created under Obamacare, according to the Associated Press.
During a week-long recess last week that coincided with the Fourth of July holiday, liberal groups organized town halls and protests and ran ads criticizing the proposal.
Most Republican senators kept a low profile on the issue, including McCain, who traveled to Afghanistan to visit troops, and Senator Jeff Flake, a fellow Arizonan who faces a tough re-election fight next year.
Last week, groups such as the state chapter of Planned Parenthood and Ability 360, an advocacy organization for disabled people, participated in events that spotlighted the Senate bill, including a town hall in Phoenix.
At the Phoenix event, there were empty chairs on a stage with placards for McCain and Flake, who were invited but did not attend.
Arizonans such as Rosemary Dixon, who had a kidney transplant in 2015 and worries about how she will pay for her medication, spoke about the potential impact of the legislation.