Top GOP senator: 'The public wants every dime they can be given' on healthcare

Sen. Orrin Hatch on Tuesday suggested public sentiment would make the GOP’s healthcare fight more complicated because too many people are “on the dole” and won’t want to give up benefits provided by the Affordable Care Act.

Hatch, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, was asked by a reporter if public opposition to the GOP healthcare plan would impact the Senate’s decision-making on its version of the bill.

“The public wants every dime they can be given. I mean face it, once you get them on the dole they’re going to take every dime they can,” Hatch told reporters leaving a healthcare planning meeting. “We’ve got to find some way of getting things under control or this country in the near future is going to be gone.”

The American Health Care Act, which passed the House last week, has been shown to be generally unpopular among Americans. A HuffPost/YouGov poll released on Monday showed 31% of Americans support the AHCA, while 44% oppose it.

One of the sticking points that has emerged is funding for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. The AHCA would shift the current funding structure to a per-capita block grant, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates would cut more than $US800 billion in funding for the program that provides low-income Americans with health insurance.

Hatch, as head of the Senate Finance Committee, has purview over aspects of Medicaid.

Republicans have been critical of the Medicaid expansion, saying it adds to the funding burden of the federal government.

Other provisions of the Affordable Care Act, such as tax credits to help American pay for insurance, have been criticised by conservatives as new entitlement programs.

Senate Republicans have so far convened a working group to build their own version of a healthcare bill, but have not laid out a time table for its completion.

Hatch’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

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