Trump tells senators House health care bill is 'mean,' source says

President Donald Trump speaks before having lunch with Republican Senators and White House staffers in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington Tuesday

President Trump told Republican senators Tuesday that the House GOP health-care bill was "mean" and he expects the Senate to "improve" the legislation considerably, according to several Republicans familiar with the gathering.

As Republican leaders look to build support for the health care overhaul they are writing behind closed doors, they are trying to reassure senators who fear vulnerable constituents would lose access to care.

That's because the Senate healthcare bill must save at least as much money as the House's legislation. At a Rose Garden ceremony minutes after the bill's narrow House passage on May 4, Trump called it "a great plan". Senators have said that the House bill was dead on arrival and they're quietly working on their own version that the two chambers will have to reconcile later on. "I'm sure there are 217 Republicans - congressmen just squirming that they voted for a mean bill, and they know that's going to be brought up to them in the campaigns in 2018." .

At a Senate health committee hearing Tuesday that was supposed to focus on high prescription-drug prices, Democrats criticized Republican efforts to develop their health bill in secret. While they can spend more money on certain areas, they still have to hit the $133 billion marker to comply with Senate rules. Ron Johnson, Bob Corker, Bill Cassidy, Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake all said they had not seen the healthcare bill.

Rank-and-file Republicans, including Lindsey Graham of SC and Jeff Flake of Arizona, say they don't know what's in an emerging Obamacare replacement that's been under negotiation since the House passed its version in early May.

Republican senators still disagree on major components of potential legislation, and the meeting with Trump did little to change their minds.

The sources told The Associated Press that the president did not say what aspects of the bill he was characterizing. "And he certainly is fine with us taking a different direction with what the House did".

"The message was that we need to get this done, it needs to be done right, but sooner is better than later", said Sen. "I learned more from you all in this conversation that there may have in fact have been something submitted to CBO, but if that's the case, I don't know what it is nor what it says".

Trump's lunch included a number of more moderate Republicans, including Sens. Tom Cotton, Alaska Sen.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee (r), with Democratic Sen. The measure would replace Obamacare subsidies with tax credits based primarily on age, and let states get waivers from some of the Affordable Care Act's consumer protections.

Johnson has made the case that Republicans should not rush efforts to roll back President Barack Obama's health care law.

"Our goal here is to move forward quickly", McConnell told reporters.

The Ohio Republican acknowledged the meeting didn't appear to resolve any differences, but added "that wasn't the goal".

"That has not worked well in the past", he said. "We'll come out with a real bill, not Obamacare, and the results are going to be fantastic. and everybody's going to be happy". "It's an important part of the health care program, but I think people in the country are deeply anxious about what is happening to the health care system". "But he wants to get the job done". "I appreciate what you're doing - to pass a phenomenal bill for the people of our country", Trump said with media in the room. The other source said Trump used a vulgarity to describe the House bill and told the senators, "We need to be more generous".

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch said, "I think we're a ways away" from an agreement.

Obamacare "had been broken and it's been a broken promise", Trump added. His legislative affairs team has been closely involved, but the President himself has been removed - by design, multiple aides on Capitol Hill said.

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