Trump steps up ObamaCare repeal push, meets with law’s ‘victims’

President Trump stepped up his administration’s push Monday for an ObamaCare repeal bill, meeting at the White House with “victims” of the original law and vowing that Republicans’ proposal will drive insurance costs “down, down, down.”

“More competition and less regulation will finally bring down the cost of care,” Trump said.

The president spoke at the top of a session with nearly a dozen Americans from across the country whom the White House says have been affected negatively by the Affordable Care Act.

A Tennessee resident, Joel Brown, described his rate increases as astronomical and said his county has only one insurance option – which comes, he said, with a $7,000 deductible. Kim Sertich, of Arizona, said she no longer has traditional health care, having gone into a faith-based cost-sharing program after having problems with her coverage.

Trump pledged at the end, “It will get better.”

Trump, along with top administration officials and congressional allies, is trying to sell the GOP repeal bill to the public and rank-and-file lawmakers amid mounting bipartisan criticism of their approach.

The administration also is wary about a forthcoming estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that is expected to find fewer Americans would be covered under the Republican plan.

One senior House Republican source told Fox News they expect the score to be “terrible.”

But in anticipation, top Republicans preemptively have downplayed the reliability of the CBO’s estimates, noting some of its coverage estimates for the original law were off.

Further, Trump on Monday suggested the media are unfairly trying to make ObamaCare look better than it is – even comparing their coverage to that of former President Barack Obama himself.

“The press is making it look so wonderful,” Trump said. “It’s a little bit like President Obama. When he left, people liked him. When he was here, people didn’t like him so much.”

He predicted the current law will collapse, saying, “Whether we do it or not, it’ll be imploded off the map.”

Trump was careful to manage expectations about the repeal legislation. He said their plan would bring more competition and less regulation, in turn lowering prices. But, he cautioned, getting to that point will take “a little while” – a year or two, he said.

The CBO “score” could come as early as Monday.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he fully expects the CBO analysis to find less coverage since the GOP plan eliminates the government requirement to be insured.

But Ryan and Trump administration officials vowed to move forward on their proposed “repeal and replace” plan, insisting they can work past GOP disagreements and casting the issue as one of “choice” in which consumers are freed of a government mandate to buy insurance.

“What we’re trying to achieve here is bringing down the cost of care, bringing down the cost of insurance not through government mandates and monopolies but by having more choice and competition,” Ryan, R-Wis., said on Sunday CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We’re not going to make an American do what they don’t want to do.”

The CBO’s long-awaited cost analysis of the House GOP leadership plan, including estimates on the number of people expected to be covered, will likely affect Republicans’ chances of passing the proposal.

GOP opponents from the right and center are already hardening their positions against the Trump-backed legislation. House conservatives vowed to block the bill as “Obamacare Lite” unless there are more restrictions, even as a Republican, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., warned the plan would never pass as is due to opposition from moderates.

“Do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate and then have to face the consequences of that vote,” Cotton said on ABC’s “This Week.” “If they vote for this bill, they’re going to put the House majority at risk next year.”

Trump was bullish about Republican chances of passing a health care bill, tweeting Monday, “Republicans will come together and save the day.”

“ObamaCare is imploding. It is a disaster and 2017 will be the worst year yet, by far!” he tweeted.

The GOP legislation would eliminate the current mandate that nearly all people in the United States carry insurance or face fines. It would use tax credits to help consumers buy health coverage, expand health savings accounts, phase out an expansion of Medicaid and cap that program for the future, end some requirements for health plans under Obama’s law, and scrap a number of taxes.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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