U.S. President Donald Trump is emphatically telling the Republican majority in the Senate it needs to keep its seven-year promise to voters to repeal the country's health care law championed by former President Barack Obama.
Trump invited all 52 Republican senators to the White House for lunch Wednesday to talk about health care, a day after the collapse of the party's effort to overturn and replace the law, commonly known as Obamacare.
A handful of conservative Republican lawmakers said the party's proposal to overhaul the Obama law did not go far enough to wipe out its health care restrictions, while others said it went too far and would imperil insurance coverage for millions of poorer Americans.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled a vote next week to repeal the law outright without a replacement, but already at least three Republican senators have said they will vote against that measure, which would be enough to kill the idea since all 48 Senate Democrats remain united in opposing a repeal of Obamacare.
One of the Republican opponents of an outright repeal, Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, said, "I did not come to Washington to hurt people. I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians."
Trump, who campaigned throughout his successful run for the White House for repeal of his predecessor's signature domestic law, made a last-ditch plea to Senate Republicans in a pair of Twitter comments for party solidarity to dump Obamacare.
"They MUST keep their promise to America!" Trump said. "The Republicans never discuss how good their healthcare bill is, & it will get even better at lunchtime.The Dems scream death as OCare dies!"
As it became apparent Tuesday that the long Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare had collapsed, Trump told reporters, "Let Obamacare fail. It'll be a lot easier, and I think we're probably in a position where we'll just let Obamacare fail. We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you Republicans are not going to own it."
Most working Americans get their health insurance coverage through their employers, with millions of others covered through government programs for the impoverished or those over 65.
Obama care gaining in popularity
Obamacare chiefly affects individuals paying for their own insurance coverage to help pay for their health care costs. About 20 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage because of the law, but insurance premiums have risen under the law and Republicans remain adamantly opposed to its requirement that almost every American must buy insurance or pay a penalty if they don't.
Despite Trump's oft-repeated claim that Obamacare is failing, national polls show it gaining in popularity, with significantly higher approval ratings than for the Republican proposals to replace it.
But some insurers have withdrawn from the market in more rural parts of the country, leaving people there with the potential of not being able to find affordable insurance coverage.