Republican foes of health care bill win praise in districts


BUCKNER, Kentucky (AP) — One of the House Republican rebels, Kentucky Rep. Tom Massie, wasn’t just “no” on the GOP health care bill to replace Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Massie was “hell no.”

That won over Mary Broecker, president of the Oldham County Republican Women’s Club and a strong proponent of a full-blown repeal of the 2010 law.

“When he came out against this bill, I thought, ‘I trust him so this must be the right way,”’ the 76-year-old retired teacher said of Massie this week as she sat at a coffee shop near her LaGrange home.

Defying President Donald Trump on the seven-year Republican Party promise to repeal and replace “Obamacare” sounds like political suicide, especially in the congressional districts Trump won handily. Yet in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Iowa in the bitter aftermath of the GOP’s epic failure, Republicans who blocked the legislation have won praise from constituents for stopping what many saw as a flawed plan, either in the legislation’s substance or strategy.

Trump initially faulted Democrats for rejecting the bill, but on several occasions since then, including Thursday morning, he lashed out at the hardline conservatives of the House Freedom Caucus.

“The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!” Trump tweeted.

Conservatives opposed the bill because it didn’t go far enough in getting the government out of health care while moderates worried that tens of millions of Americans might be left without insurance. Trump’s famed deal-making and power of persuasion faltered with his own party, a remarkable turn at a time when the GOP controls the White House, Senate and House.

Nationwide, an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released Wednesday found that 62 percent disapprove of the way Trump is handling health care, his worst rating among seven issues the poll tested, including the economy, foreign policy and immigration.

The same poll found negative views of five of the six changes Republicans envisioned for the bill, including allowing insurers to charge older customers higher premiums than is now allowed, reduced funds for Medicaid and denying federal dollars to Planned Parenthood.

Yet the same voters who backed their local lawmaker for opposing the bill showed patience with Trump.

“I think he’s going to be a great president,” Broecker said. “I think he’ll figure it out.”

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