President Donald Trump “didn’t care or particularly know about health care” despite trying to push a major reform bill through Congress, a senior Republican aide has reportedly claimed.
Mr Trump and top House Republican Paul Ryan tasted defeat on Friday when they were forced to pull the bill, designed to replace Barack Obama’s flagship Affordable Care Act, because they could not get enough votes within their own party to pass it.
The President blamed Democrats for failing to support the plan, but the self-professed dealmaker also said: “We learned a lot about loyalty, we learned a lot about the vote-getting process.” He insisted “Obamacare will explode” eventually and that opposition politicians would see the light and work with him on a new plan.
Vice President Mike Pence and budget director Mick Mulvaney joined Mr Trump in aggressive lobbying for votes with members of the dissenting Republican Freedom Caucus faction, and the President had also tried to court moderates.
However, a Republican congressional aide told CNN: “He didn’t care or particularly know about health care. If you are going to be a great negotiator, you have to know about the subject matter.”
CNN also reported that during a meeting with moderate Republicans, when Pennsylvania congressman Charlie Dent said he did not support the repeal-and-replace bill, Mr Trump said: “Why am I even talking to you?”
In his meeting with the Freedom Caucus the President reportedly urged sceptical legislators to ignore the “little s***” of the policy detail and give him the support he needed.
Among the group’s objections was the “essential health benefits” clause of the bill.
It said that requiring insurance companies to cover a list of items—including, but not limited to, access to mental health services, substance abuse counselling, physical therapy, maternal care and paediatric care like vaccinations—would raise premiums.
The American Health Care Act, Mr Trump and Mr Ryan’s proposed plan, would have left 24 million people uninsured by 2026 according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The CBO also said that while it would have saved the government money, people’s insurance premiums would have risen by between 15 and 20 per cent above the expected increase under Obamacare.