Trump Retreats on Health Care After McConnell Warns It Won’t Happen

Some of the president’s senior advisers pushed him to join the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the entire current health care law, a more expansive position than the administration had taken previously, when it argued that protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be struck down.

But others raised concerns, including the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone. Mr. Cipollone said that Attorney General William P. Barr had issues with joining the suit, too. But once the president made clear his mind was made up, the Justice Department went along without complaint, people familiar with the events said.

Among those objecting was Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine who sent a letter to Mr. Barr expressing her “profound disagreement” with the move.

“Rather than seeking to have the courts invalidate the A.C.A.,” she wrote, referring to the Affordable Care Act, “the proper route for the administration to pursue would be to propose changes to the A.C.A. or to once again seek its repeal. The administration should not attempt to use the courts to bypass Congress.”

Mr. McConnell sought to calm Republican nerves, saying “there’s no point in pushing the panic button” because the court system would take a long time to resolve the dispute.

“I don’t think any of these policies are in any immediate danger,” he said.

Mr. Trump has basically commissioned four Republican senators to devise a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. The group consists of two doctors, John Barrasso of Wyoming and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, as well as Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close ally of the president, and Senator Rick Scott of Florida, who was the chief executive of a large for-profit hospital firm before he entered politics.

Mr. Scott said on Tuesday that he was focused on bringing down health costs, especially prescription drug prices. “Obamacare has made health care way more expensive,” he said. “Co-payments are up. Deductibles are up. Premiums have skyrocketed.”

When asked about developing a wholesale replacement for the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Scott responded, “I’m a business guy,” adding, “I didn’t try to do grand bargains.”

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