AHH, OOF, OUCH
McConnell waits for Trump to arrive for a meeting with Republican senators about health care yesterday. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

McConnell waits for Trump to arrive for a meeting with Republican senators about health care yesterday. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

AHH: Replacing Obamacare used to be the GOP's great unifier. Now it has become their albatross, the Post's Dan Balz writes

"In a worst-of-all-worlds environment, Republicans continue to struggle with what they’re selling, beyond the stated goal of repealing or revising the Affordable Care Act," Dan writes. "Whatever overarching arguments they hope to make on behalf of their legislation have been lost in a welter of competing claims and demands among senators with different priorities and dissimilar ideological viewpoints."

"The Republicans’ major selling point is that Obamacare is collapsing," he continues. "Even Democrats acknowledge weaknesses with the current law, though some Democrats have accused Trump and Republicans of deliberately trying to make those problems worse. McConnell said Tuesday that a Republican solution will be superior to the status quo. Exactly how, Senate Republicans haven’t been able to say. But in terms of corralling the votes, McConnell should not be underestimated."

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev), and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) talk before President Trump arrives for a meeting with Republican senators about health care. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev), and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) talk before President Trump arrives for a meeting with Republican senators about health care. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

OOF: Maybe don't attack your own if you're trying to build support for a health-care bill. Heller, one of the moderates skeptical of the Senate bill who is facing a tough reelection next year, reportedly complained to Trump yesterday about attack ads coming from America First Policies, a nonprofit run by a former White House aide and Trump campaign veterans. The group targeted Heller over the weekend with a TV and radio ad campaign for denouncing the Senate plan as written, pressuring him to vote for it and even roping him to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

"McConnell told White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus over the weekend that the group’s attacks were 'beyond stupid,' according to a Republican with knowledge of the exchange," the AP reports. "McConnell allies argued that the approach alienated Heller and other Republicans rather than making it easier to get their votes."

Shortly after Heller himself complained about the ads in the White House meeting yesterday, America First Policies said it decided to take down its Heller ads because “he has decided to come back to the table to negotiate with his colleagues on the Senate bill,” spokeswoman Erin Montgomery said.

But America First Policies didn't apologize for its aggressive strategy. And one of its leaders, former Trump campaign spokesman Katrina Pierson, tweeted that it's not the group's task to preserve GOP seats in Congress:

OUCH: Members of Congress are skilled at giving answers that really aren't answers at all, as my colleague Sean Sullivan noted yesterday. His conversation with Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) on whether delaying the health-care vote until July is good or bad:

TRUMP TEMPERATURE
Trump met with Republican senators about health care in the White House yesterday. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Trump met with Republican senators about health care in the White House yesterday. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

--Trump attempted a heart-to-heart with the entire Senate Republican Conference at the White House yesterday afternoon, where senators got a chance to air their grievances about the health-care bill and the whole closed-door process of writing it, Sean Sullivan, Juliet Eilperin and Kelsey Snell report.

The president sat between two of the bill's holdouts — Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) — and said Republicans are “getting very close” to securing the votes they need even as he acknowledged that they might fail. He told the room we have “no choice but to solve this situation” because Obamacare is a “total disaster.”

“This will be great if we get it done,” Trump said. “And if we don’t get it done, it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like — and that’s okay. I understand that very well.”

Collins described the meeting as productive, and said Trump was “really in listening mode.” “He was taking in all of the comments. There were many senators who raised issues, and, as you can imagine, the issues really run the ideological gamut," she added.

McConnell also emerged from the meeting praising Trump's interventions, according to my colleague Ed O'Keefe:

A telling photo of Collins and Heller (the two moderates who have said they won't vote for the health-care bill unless it's changed). From former Hillary Clinton press secretary Tim Hogan:

Another visual of the meeting tweeted by the New York Times' Doug Mills: 

Nevada Independent editor Jon Ralston poked fun:

--But does Trump have enough clout with congressional Republicans? Maybe not. "Republican fixtures in Washington are beginning to conclude that Trump may be neither, despite his mix of bravado, threats and efforts to schmooze with GOP lawmakers," the Post's Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Robert Costa write.

Case in point: Trump got on the phone Monday with conservative Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and urged him to back the measure, but a day later Lee said he would vote against the bill.

"Trump had hoped for a swift and easy win on health care this week. Instead he got a delay and a return to the negotiating table — the latest reminder of the limits of his power to shape outcomes at the opposite end of Pennsylvania Avenue," Ashley, Robert and Philip report. "History suggests that presidents who have governed successfully have been both revered and feared...The president is the leader of his party, yet Trump has struggled to get Republican lawmakers moving in lockstep on health care and other major issues, leaving no signature legislation in his first five months in office. The confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch is his most-cited achievement to date."

A Post video about the White House meeting:

Trump meets with GOP senators as McConnell delays health care vote

--Unlike most congressional leaders, McConnell has managed so far to escape Trump’s wrath, my colleagues Robert Costa and Sean Sullivan report. “He’s never, as far as I can tell, gotten angry at me — in my presence, anyway,” McConnell said of the president last month.

President Trump shakes hands with McConnell. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Trump shakes hands with McConnell. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

"That fragile peace between a taciturn insider and a brash newcomer has helped both men pursue Republican priorities, but it faces an uncertain future this week as a major rewrite of the nation’s health-care laws falters in the Senate. McConnell and Trump are both hungry for a win," Robert and Sean write. "Their understanding, built to score legislative victories, does neither of them any good if victories remain out of reach."

"On its surface, the health-care effort is about fulfilling a GOP pledge," they continue. "But Republicans said it is also a test of whether McConnell and Trump can stitch together winning coalitions on any big-ticket item this year — and reassure business leaders and activists eager for action."

REPRODUCTIVE WARS

Planned Parenthood supporters protest outside the Capitol

--Hundreds of activists protesting the Senate health-care bill hooted and cheered from their stakeout in the "Senate swamp" as the news broke yesterday that the Senate was delaying a vote on its health-care bill. "Hundreds of activists from Planned Parenthood, AFSCME, and smaller progressive groups were hooting and cheering their latest mini-victory," the Post's Dave Weigel reports.

"For some Democrats, it was the fifth or six protest of the Better Care Reconciliation Act in 24 hours," Dave writes. "Some of the protesters had done even more, with the progressive group Ultraviolet tailing Republican senators as they left their offices, the most aggressive of dozens of tactics to slow down or stop BCRA. More had been cycling in and out of Capitol office rooms for news conferences, where Democrats sat back and let Medicaid beneficiaries take over the microphone."

--Among the protesters were dozens of women dressed in “The Handmaid’s Tale”-like costumes to protest the bill's restriction on Medicaid dollars for Planned Parenthood clinics. “It would be the worst bill for women in generations and decimate women’s healthcare,” said Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Fern Whyland, according to the Hill. “It’s a healthcare bill with no healthcare.” 

From The Hill's Taylor Lorenz:

MALPRACTICE
McConnell had polio as a child. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

McConnell had polio as a child. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

--A meme about how McConnell received his polio treatment as a child has been shared hundreds of thousands of times on the Internet by activists opposing the Obamacare overhaul he's shepherding through the Senate.

“As a kid, Mitch McConnell had polio, and the government paid for ALL of his care and rehabilitation,” says a text below an apparent picture of a young McConnell, adding that McConnell wants to take away the government-funded care that once helped him. The meme was originally posted to Facebook by the group Occupy Democrats.

The problem is, that story is false, the Post's Kristine Phillips reports.

Dr. Jonas Salk administers a trial polio vaccine to David Rosenbloom of Pittsburgh in this 1954 photo from the National Foundation March of Dimes. (AP Photo/National Foundation March of Dimes)

Dr. Jonas Salk administers a trial polio vaccine to David Rosenbloom of Pittsburgh in this 1954 photo from the National Foundation March of Dimes. (AP Photo/National Foundation March of Dimes)

The facts: After McConnell was struck with polio at the age of 2 in 1944, he received treatment at the polio treatment center that President Franklin D. Roosevelt founded in Warm Springs, Ga. The funds for the treatment center were raised by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, a nonprofit that collected private donations -- not government funding.

"Shortly after the foundation was created in 1937, comedian Eddie Cantor spearheaded a fundraising campaign that he called March of Dimes," Kristine writes. "Its goal was simple: Use radio and the president's Birthday Ball to encourage people to donate at least one dime to the cause of fighting polio...The result was an 'avalanche of donations' in the form of 80,000 letters containing dimes and dollars that inundated the White House mail room, according to the March of Dimes website."

"It's likely that the stories by Occupy Democrats and others relied on a misunderstanding of what public money is and falsely concluded that dollars donated by members of the public to a private organization are the same as taxpayer dollars that fund government programs," Kristine continues. "McConnell's staff did not respond to a request for comment. Colin Taylor, who wrote the Occupy Democrat story, also did not respond."

INDUSTRY RX
FDA takes steps to boost generic competition, limit prices

The Food and Drug Administration said it’s taking steps to boost the number of generic prescription drugs on the market in an effort to make medicines more affordable and to prevent price gouging.

D.C. reports sharp decline in new HIV infections

Officials credit drugs and prevention programs, including condom giveaways and needle exchange, for 73 percent drop in new cases since 2007.

A mother’s response to the health-care debate: Her 3-year-old son’s $231,000 hospital bill

A mother says her son is the poster child for Obamacare, and she's using his story as a message to Republicans attempting to change the health-care law.

SECOND OPINION
Why the Senate’s health-care plan wouldn’t work in the real world

States do not have some magic way to cover millions of Americans with far less federal support.

Lawmakers have a rare chance to transform Medicaid. They should take it.

It’s past time to ensure Medicaid works for those it was designed to serve.

MEDICAL MISSIVES
President Trump wants you to know he actually does care about HIV/AIDS

The earnest statement from the White House was technically accurate, apolitical and struck just the right notes.

STATE SCAN
The GOP health-care plan threatens to kill jobs nationwide

Jobs in health care and nursing homes are growing far more rapidly than in other areas


DAYBOOK
A Philadelphia Police officer shows a package of the overdose reversal agent Naloxone Hydrochloride. (AFP PHOTO / DOMINICK REUTERDOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

A Philadelphia Police officer shows a package of the overdose reversal agent Naloxone Hydrochloride. (AFP PHOTO / DOMINICK REUTERDOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

Today

  • The Bipartisan Policy Center will hold an event  on cybersecurity and medical devices.
  • The Cato Institute will hold a briefing  on Capitol Hill on how the federal government should address the opioid crisis.

Coming Up

  • The Bipartisan Policy Center will hold an event on Thursday on balancing Medicaid cost and coverage.
  • American Enterprise Institute will hold an event on Thursday on the government’s role in medical innovation.
SUGAR RUSH

Here's what happened after Senate leaders postponed the health-care vote:

Here’s what happened after Senate leaders postponed the health-care vote

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on health care: 'We're going to fight the bill tooth and nail'

Schumer on health care: 'We're going to fight the bill tooth and nail'

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) on health-care bill: ‘We still got a way to go’:

Cruz on health-care bill: ‘We still got a way to go’

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said she wants Republican and Democratic senators to “work together” to “improve on the Affordable Care Act.”: 

Shaheen: GOP and Democrats should ‘work together’ to ‘improve’ the ACA

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) weighs in on the health-care bill: 

Ryan weighs in on Senate health-care bill

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump remains 'optimistic' on health care and criticizes CBO report:

Sanders says Trump remains 'optimistic' on health care and criticizes CBO report

A mother’s response to the health-care debate: Her 3-year-old son’s $231,000 hospital bill:

This 3-year-old’s last hospital bill was $231,000. His mother has a message for lawmakers.

And Stephen Colbert says "'Repeal And Replace' Is Being 'Delayed And Postponed'":  

'Repeal And Replace' Is Being 'Delayed And Postponed'