WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Thirty-two million Americans would lose their health insurance by 2026 if Obamacare is repealed without a replacement, the US Congressional Budget Office reported as President Donald Trump pushed fellow Senate Republicans to reach an agreement on overhauling the country's healthcare law.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell planned to hold a vote for a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act next week after a Bill to repeal and replace collapsed on Monday with the Republican party sharply divided.
According to the CBO, a non-partisan office that analyses pending legislation, 17 million Americans would lose health insurance alone in 2018 with a repeal while premiums on individual insurance plans would rise 25 per cent next year and double by 2026.
Mr Trump told 49 Republican senators at a White House lunch on Wednesday that he wanted more than a straight repeal.
After taking a hands-off approach to the healthcare debate last week and suggesting on Tuesday that he was fine with letting Obamacare fail, Mr Trump on Wednesday demanded that senators stay in Washington through their planned August recess until they can find common ground on healthcare.
"We're close. We're very close," Mr Trump said at the start of the meeting.
He demanded that lawmakers keep their campaign promises to repeal and replace Obamacare and find a new approach to healthcare.
"We can repeal, but we should repeal and replace, and we shouldn't leave town until this is complete," he said.
After the lunch, Mr McConnell said he will go ahead with a vote early next week to begin debate on a repeal of the ACA, former President Barack Obama's signature legislation, despite indications it will fail after the defections on Tuesday of at least three Republican senators.
Moderate Republican Senators Susan Collins, Ms Lisa Murkowski and Ms Shelley Moore Capito said they oppose Mr McConnell's plan for a repeal that would take effect in two years, giving Congress time to develop a replacement. All three attended the lunch.
"I did not come to Washington to hurt people," Ms Capito said in a statement. "I cannot vote to repeal 'Obamacare' without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians."
Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican , hinted strongly that he too would oppose it.
With Democrats united in opposition to repeal, Mr McConnell can only lose two votes from Republicans' 52-48 majority in the 100-seat Senate to pass healthcare legislation.
Speaking to reporters in the Roosevelt Room on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Trump said he was "disappointed" in the demise of the Senate Bill.
Now his plan is "to let Obamacare fail; it will be a lot easier", he said. "And I think we're probably in that position where we'll let Obamacare fail."
"We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it," the President said. "I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We'll let Obamacare fail, and then the Democrats are going to come to us."
REUTERS, NYTIMES, WASHINGTON POST