Tribune Washington Bureau
Posted with permission from Tribune Content Agency

WASHINGTON — As Republicans worked overtime Monday to craft their Obamacare replacement plan, political pressure mounted from almost all sides with conflicting messages over what to do with the health care law.

New polling Monday showed that most Americans want to fix the Affordable Care Act, rather than gut it, as Republicans have long promised.

Fully 68 percent of Americans want to keep what works and fix the rest, while just 32 percent prefer the GOP's repeal and replace approach, according to polling from Hart Research. Moreover, the polling showed most Americans — including 54 percent of President Donald Trump's voters — have a favorable view of the Medicaid system, which would face steep cuts under the Republican plan.

At the same time, the powerful Koch conservative network has launched a massive advertising push to encourage Republicans to keep their promise of full repeal of the health care law.

"You promised" is the slogan for the effort by Americans for Prosperity, which is hosting a rally Tuesday outside the Capitol to pressure GOP lawmakers.

The mixed political messages complicate the already difficult legislative task for Republicans.

Republicans in Congress want to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a new health care system that costs less but provides just as much coverage.

Analysts, though, find that goal difficult, and expect millions of Americans to lose insurance under the GOP plan. It calls for slashing access to Medicaid and capping the tax benefits of employer-sponsored health care plans.

"We know the task before us is daunting," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Monday.

"Let's keep working this week so that we can bring Americans much-needed relief from Obamacare as soon as possible."

As Republicans struggled to meet a self-imposed deadline Monday to unveil their bill, their traditional allies in the Koch network of conservative groups hardened against them.

Americans for Prosperity launched a six-figure ad buy against any GOP effort that falls short of full repeal.

The Koch groups are siding with a growing number of congressional conservatives who oppose the proposal, which he derided as "Obamacare lite" or "Obamacare 2.0."

Conservatives, including Trump rivals Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., worry the GOP alternative will simply replace the health care law with new mandates for coverage and create new federal costs.

They particularly take aim at the GOP plan to replace the subsidies offered through Obamacare that help some Americans buy private insurance with new tax credits. They see that as a new federal entitlement program.

The Koch group's campaign is expected to expand soon to television ads with stories of Americans who want Republicans to end the health care law.