Trump predicts a 'big surprise' on health care as Senate GOP pushes to win votes

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump says Senate Republicans will "get at least very close" to passing an Obamacare replacement bill.
  • He says it will be "so good" and a major improvement over Obamacare.
  • Republicans are pushing to win over skeptical senators amid opposition to the bill from the party's moderate and conservative wings.
Despite dismal ratings, Trump says GOP health-care plan will pass

President Donald Trump believes Senate Republicans will "get at least very close" to passing an Obamacare replacement — and the results will be "so good" if they do.

In two public appearances Wednesday, he predicted a "big surprise" on health care a day after the Senate GOP delayed voting on its bill amid opposition from several members.

Trump said that gathering support is "never easy." He added that senators are taking "a little bit more time" to make the bill "perfect" after GOP senators raised concerns with various parts of the proposal.

"We need almost all of [the Republican senators]. That's never easy. … I think we're going to get at least very close and I think we're going to get it over the line. There was a great, great feeling in that room yesterday," Trump said about his Tuesday meeting with GOP senators.

Trump spoke about health care Wednesday once while at a White House energy meeting with governors and tribal leaders, and later as he met players from the World Series-winning Chicago Cubs.

The GOP faced defections from both its moderate and conservative wings as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed for a vote before July 4. Moderates want to blunt the effects of a Medicaid expansion rollback, curb the number of people the plan leaves uninsured and get more help with the opioid crisis. Conservatives want it to go further toward a full Obamacare repeal.

Warren Buffett slams Senate GOP health-care bill as a 'relief for the rich act'

McConnell hopes to strike a deal on a revised version of the bill by Friday and send it to the Congressional Budget Office, according to The Washington Post. But resolving lingering differences could prove difficult in the short window.

Republicans face difficulties in winning over skeptical senators, as tweaks to appease conservatives could alienate moderates, or vice versa.The hurdles threaten to delay a key plank of the sweeping agenda Republicans hoped to pass when Trump won the White House and the GOP held onto both chambers of Congress.

Amid Republicans' push to win over skeptical senators, Trump set some lofty goals for the bill Wednesday.

"I think this has a chance to be a great health care at a reasonable cost. People can save a lot of money. We get rid of the mandates, we get rid of so much. Got rid of a lot of taxes. All the bad parts of Obamacare are gone. Essentially, it's a repeal and replace," Trump said.

A CBO score of the existing bill shows a mixed bag on those counts. It estimated that the bill would lead to 22 million more uninsured Americans by 2026 than under current law, a figure that multiple moderates criticized.

Average premiums would fall by about 20 percent relative to current law by 2026. But out-of-pocket costs could rise for many consumers "because nongroup insurance would pay for a smaller average share of benefits under this legislation," the CBO said.

The Senate plan would lead to an estimated $321 billion in deficit reduction from 2017 to 2026, according to the office.

The bill has received dismal approval ratings in polling so far. In addition, most major medical groups have opposed the proposal.

As Republican leaders pushed to strike a deal on the plan, some GOP senators increased their calls to figure out a bipartisan solution for Obamacare's problems. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told NBC News that if the GOP does not reach a deal by Friday, it may be time to start seeking a bipartisan solution.

Moderate Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, are among the other GOP senators who have said they would be open to a bipartisan solution.

Collins: I want to work w/ my GOP & Dem colleagues to fix the flaws in ACA. CBO analysis shows Senate bill won't do it. I will vote no on mtp. 1/3

On Tuesday, McConnell indicated that he did not see that as a possibility yet. He said of Democrats: "They're not interested in participating in this."

Watch: Finding value in health care stocks

Where to find value in health-care stocks ahead of Senate vote