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Trump 'exploded' after ex-GOP congressman said he would oppose Obamacare repeal legislation: book

John L. Dorman,Brent D. Griffiths   

Trump 'exploded' after ex-GOP congressman said he would oppose Obamacare repeal legislation: book
  • Ex-Rep. Will Hurd said Trump was unhappy after he revealed his stance on the Obamacare repeal bill.
  • In the book "American Reboot," Hurd pointed to $800 billion in Medicaid cuts as a sticking point.

Former Republican Rep. Will Hurd in a newly-released book said that then-President Donald Trump "exploded" at him in 2017 after he expressed his opposition to the Affordable Care Act repeal legislation put forward by the party.

Hurd — a former CIA officer who represented Texas' vast 23rd congressional district from 2015 to 2021 — recounted that in his first one-on-one phone conversation with Trump, the then-president was seeking to rally support for the legislation.

Before his talk with Trump, Hurd spoke with then-Vice President Mike Pence about his concerns with the bill, pointing to the Republican-drafted American Health Care Act's $800 billion in Medicaid cuts, which he said would hurt many constituents in his district.

Pence was sympathetic to Hurd's position and told him that he was making "the right decision" for his district, despite the Trump administration's push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which the former congressman detailed in "American Reboot: An Idealist's Guide to Getting Big Things Done."

However, Trump — who made the repeal and replacement of Obamacare a centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign — was not as understanding as Pence in recognizing the dynamics of his district, according to Hurd.

In his book, the former congressman stated that the cuts to Medicaid — the public health insurance program largely for low-income people — were a sticking point in his assessment of the legislation.

"The Medicaid cuts were a major problem for me," he wrote. "In my largely rural district, many people worked low-wage jobs and qualified and benefited from the program. About one in every fifteen people in Texas 23 is covered by Medicaid, one of the highest rates in Texas."

He added: "The AHCA plan also failed to include adequate protections for those with pre-existing conditions — a big concern in a district with a high percentage of chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart disease."

During Hurd's conversation with Trump, the then-president told him that he had a "beautiful voice" before launching into a campaign for the bill.

"Look ... we've been talking about healthcare for a long time," Trump said, according to the book. "We're poised for a big win here. Big win. We'd really love your support."

Hurd told Trump that he'd "like to be there" on the bill, but couldn't do so in its current form.

"The president, who either hadn't been briefed on my concerns or didn't care, exploded," the former congressman wrote.

"That's what's wrong with you Republicans," Trump said, according to Hurd. "You've been talking about this for four years, and we have a chance to do it and you're not going to do it."

Trump then alleged that he had won Hurd's district, which currently includes more miles of the US-Mexico border than any other congressional district in the country.

"I won your district," he told Hurd, which was incorrect. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually carried it 49.8%-46.4% in the 2016 presidential election.

Hurd said: "Mr. President ... you actually lost my district by three points."

Trump responded: "Well, I did better than anybody thought I was gonna do in your district."

Representatives for Trump did not immediately return Insider's request for comment.

Hurd didn't change his mind and opposed the bill on the House floor. While the legislation passed by a slender margin in the House, the full Obamacare repeal never took place.

A "skinny repeal" bill was eventually defeated in the upper chamber after then-Arizona Sen. John McCain's "no" vote tanked the legislation.

In the book, Hurd reiterated that his issues with the GOP legislation weren't rooted in an endorsement of the Affordable Care Act and argued that the 2010 law didn't adequately tackle health care.

"President Obama's signature initiative failed to fix the root problems with our healthcare system," he wrote. "It was promised as a system to make healthcare more accessible and more affordable."

He continued: "While its Medicaid expansion helped some adults who fell into the coverage gap within their state because they had incomes above their state's eligibility for Medicaid but below poverty, Obamacare led to expensive and confusing insurance coverage for American families while adding regulations at the expense of small businesses."