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News Analysis: Trump wants to pass healthcare soon, but bill hangs in balance
Last Updated: 2017-07-11 13:15 | Xinhua
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U.S.-WASHINGTON D.C.-HEALTH CARE-PROTEST

People participate in a protest against Republican health care bill in Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States, July 10, 2017. Over 100 protestors from at least 21 states who are afraid of losing their health care participated in the protest here on Monday. (Xinhua/Ting Shen)

The possibility of passing a new healthcare legislation to replace Obamacare, as U.S. President Donald Trump has campaigned, looked unsure as it remains unknown whether it will get the full backing of the president's own party.

Among key members of the Republican Party who have voiced skepticism, former president candidate John McCain said Sunday the legislation is "going to be dead."

Trump wrote on his social media account on Monday that "I cannot imagine that Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new Healthcare bill fully approved and ready to go!" referring to the August Congressional recess.

"The bill hangs in the balance. There are a handful of GOP Senators who will decide whether the bill passes," Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.

"About half a dozen Republican Senators have been highly critical of the bill, but Senate Leader (Mitch) McConnell has added money in an effort to win their support. We will know in a couple of weeks whether those efforts are enough to save the legislation," West said.

Dan Mahaffee, senior vice president and director of policy at the Center for the Study of Congress and the Presidency, said "with each passing day, it becomes more and more difficult to bridge the gap between conservatives and moderates in the GOP caucus, and the increased public opposition visible to many Senators on holiday recess -- at least those willing to meet with the public -- makes this vote harder and harder."

"Time is not an ally for this bill unless there is a major compromise put into place," Mahaffee said.

Failure to pass the bill could be a major setback for the Trump administration, and even hurt the Republican in the 2018 mid-term elections, experts said.

"Failure to repeal Obamacare would be a dramatic blow to Trump's presidency. It has been the centerpiece of the Republican agenda for seven years and GOP voters will be very disappointed if the party cannot deliver on its most important commitment. It would make it more difficult for Republicans to hold Congress in 2018 and the presidency in 2020," West said.

However, there is a chance that the Trump administration and the Republicans can avoid a lasting damage to the agenda, Mahaffee said, if they can quickly transition to tax reform and infrastructure.

"That said, it would be a significant loss of momentum given the effort put into it over the last 160-plus days. In the long run, the challenge will be that neither party has a monopoly on the solutions needed for our health care system -- one-sixth of the U.S. economy -- but if this continues to be addressed in a purely partisan manner, we'll keep falling short of what needs to be done," Mahaffee said.

Critics blasted the Republican bill for what they call hurting the very rural supporters who formed the backbone of Trump's support and were key to Trump's clinching of the White House in November.

"Trump's health bill hurts the rural voters who elected him. It reduces federal support for poor people, thereby making it difficult for them to afford medical treatment ... The states that went Republican are the ones most likely to be affected by healthcare reform," West said.

Republicans have blasted Obamacare over the past eight years for various reasons, such as driving up the cost of healthcare and leaving consumers with fewer choices. Under Obamacare, those who do not purchase healthcare are levied a tax and many Americans have to pay high deductibles.

In contrast, Democrats argue that Obamacare has helped some 20 million Americans now covered because of the law, while citing other benefits they believe have occurred, such as better preventive care.

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