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hey blame the establishment. They blame the Democrats. They blame the media.

But it seems that few voters in Trump country blame President Trump for the stunning collapse of the Republican-led effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“He did all he could, I think,” said Edward Reede, 73, who was pacing the sidewalk as he waited for a relative in the rural town of Front Royal in northwest Virginia. “You can only do so much as president. You can only twist so many arms.”

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STAT staffers fanned out across the country on Saturday, talking to voters in conservative pockets of Virginia, Colorado, Ohio, Nebraska, Georgia, and Tennessee. Again and again, they voiced their continuing support for the president — and their faith that he would fix the health care system eventually, even though this first effort went up in flames.

“We just need to give President Trump time,” said Joleen Dudley, a real estate agent in Canton, Ga. “He isn’t one to give up, or he wouldn’t be a billionaire.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan made it clear on Friday that he and his colleagues have no plans to return to health care, at least not anytime soon. “Obamacare is the law of the land,” he said. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”

But in the small towns and tidy suburbs that went decisively for Trump, voters said they just didn’t believe their president would let that happen.

“I’m confident they’ll get something done,” said Mike Tomes, 56, who grows corn and soybeans in Utica, Neb.

“I’m a man of faith, and I believe that things are going to change,” said Brian Bailey, 42, a landscape foreman in Murfreesboro, Tenn., a college town smack in the middle of the state. He blamed the Republican leadership in Congress for pushing too quickly to pass a bill that still needed some work.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but I believe the right main course is set forth,” Bailey said. “It’s getting the details worked out.”

Yet a day of talking to Trump voters across the country underscored just how tough it will be to ever work out details that appeal to all the fractious elements of his coalition.

In Seward, Neb., drugstore owner Michael J. Mueri is angry that he has to pay so much for insurance — $24,000 a year, he said. He’s angry about high deductibles, too; his customers constantly complain about them. Yet he wasn’t at all fond of conservatives’ bid to try to drive down premiums by revoking the Obamacare mandate that all plans cover a bundle of “essential benefits,” such as mental health care and maternity care.

If pregnancy checkups, childbirth, and newborn care aren’t covered, Meuri said, “I’m not sure my kids can afford to have a baby.”

Ditto for preventive screenings: He wants those covered, too. Otherwise, he said, “People won’t get a colonoscopy. Too expensive. People will weigh the odds and roll the dice.”

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But in Kennesaw, Ga., a suburb on the northern fringe of Atlanta, landscaper Michael Davis has quite a different prescription for health care reform: He wants all the mandates laid out in Obama’s Affordable Care Act gone. He wants the government role as limited as possible. He wants “true, conservative, free-market principles” to rule the day — and he suggests Senator Rand Paul’s stripped-down health care bill is the place to start.

Davis, who’s a vice chair of his county Republican party, said he thought the GOP failed this time around because the establishment tried to box out the true grassroots conservatives. “I think Trump kind of fell on board with it and was convinced,” he said.

But he’s not giving up on the president: “My expectations are that they would repeal it. That’s what he said. That’s what he ran on. That’s what I believe his intentions are.”

Trump himself seemed to promise as much in a tweet on Saturday:

One of the few voters to express even mild disappointment with Trump was J.D. Kennedy, 77, a Vietnam veteran, retired auctioneer — and a regular at the City Cafe in Murfreesboro. He arrives there at 5 a.m. sharp, six days a week, and reads his local paper over coffee.

“I think he may have just ridden the wrong horse first. And that’s ego that caused him to do that,” Kennedy said. “If he had gone for tax breaks or infrastructure or any of the other things, it would have been easier, but he’s not one to go for easy things.”

And Kennedy made clear his faith in the president remains rock-solid: “He knows better,” he said, “and he’ll do better on the tax cuts.”

The key is overcoming a biased media and rallying the country, said Melinda James, 54, a health care worker from Broadview Heights, Ohio. “No matter what happens, the media tries to side it one way,” she said. “They don’t give a clear picture of what’s going on.” James said she was disappointed the health care bill had failed.

“I really don’t think people are trying to help Trump. We need to unify,” she said. “We need to give him a chance.”

Out west in the suburb of Castle Rock, Colo., a well-heeled city in one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, voters had plenty of ideas on how to parcel out blame for the collapse of an effort that the GOP has been pushing for seven years — and that Trump elevated to a central plank in his campaign.

In his feed store, which dates to 1902, owner Wayne Bennington diagnosed the problem as a failure of communication: Someone, somewhere dropped the ball on explaining to the American people just what the Republican bill did — and why they should support it, he said.

“Somebody needed to go on air and go through this explaining exactly what it is,” said Bennington, 60, whose store is packed with livestock feed, leashes, cowboy boots, and carved wooden animals (some of them painted in Denver Broncos orange and blue). “Nobody knows what the bill is about, so if you push it through like that, shame on you.”

Down the street, in a warehouse full of vendors, Bill Moye figured it was the Democrats who should take the fall, even though the GOP controls both houses of Congress and the White House. The Democrats, he said, are obstructionist. They don’t want Republicans to get anything done.

A Vietnam vet, Moye sells taxidermy busts of animals he’s hunted, as well as elk antler chandeliers he makes himself. He’s happy with his health care, which he gets through Medicare and Veterans Affairs. And he thinks his fellow Americans shouldn’t have to be afraid of losing insurance when they’re struggling financially.

At the same time, Moye sounds wary of entitlements: “We’re given too much in America.”

That’s a tough circle to square. But Moye has confidence in Trump.

“It’s going to be rough,” he said, “but I think eventually the new president will be the best we’ve ever had.”

Reporters Keith Cartwright, Lev Facher, Max Blau, and Casey Ross contributed to this report.

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  • Stop blaming and start doing!
    Let’s start in the 1990s where people would arrive to the ER, ICU, Labor and Delivery, NICU, etc. docummented/ undocumented citizens with no healthcare insurance be treated and file bankruptcy. The hospitals then complained about not being paid and in some cases filed for bankruptcy or reorg to make up the lost cost. Administration was walking the halls of hospitals / clinics explaining they were not being paid and money is being lost.
    Fast forward to babyboomers retiring in large numbers per day needing their Medicare / Medicaid they paid for and certain healthcare procedures, exams, specialties are not covered. Therefore those retirees needed supplement insurance. Some retirees are choosing between food and medication and some cases shelter. Some retirees would receive cost of living adjustment from Social Security and then the supplemental health insurance would deduct the same SSI raise amount for their monthly premium raise.
    Now, President Obama asked all the healthcare associations to help create a bill and it was a televised request to have everyone covered. The hospital association, Health Insurance Assoc., Department Health Human Services, American Heart, and 30 others to design affordable healthcare for all. They did it. No one in US Congress could interpret the ACA as they are not healthcare professionals. Which would explain Pelosi saying “let’s just see what’s inside.”
    Now, the fractured GOP party over 8 years explained “repeal Obamacare.”
    Now dominant Fractured GOP can not govern what is needed. Affordable healthcare. Why? Because every human needs it.
    We are the only country on this planet that pays 3 times more in healthcare and we still can’t use it because of health insurance profiting or some health insurance companies going under.
    Many countries are way more advanced in healthcare cost than We The People and doing fine. Taxes are a bit higher because of monarchy however everyone is covered. No one has to lose their home in bankruptcy over paid healthcare.
    We need bipartisan support for a national healthcare system. Anyone that reads this is smart enough to know it.
    If it were me in the GOP party I would save face, go across the isle to the Dems, modify the ACA to bring down healthcare cost and build on a better healthcare bill where everyone wins!

  • While I appreciate the effort to try to get another angle on healthcare reform, this article repeats a rather narrow and useless type of journalism that wants to explain the attitudes of a whole group of people across the country using antedoctal information from a few. It then follows with the interpretation of that information by the reporters with little credentials to back up their conclusions. I am admittedly very anti-trump and highly concerned about the policies of his administration as well as the current congress. I also think that some of the reason he came into power is partially due to a biased and arrogant media who come from a narrow, liberal and elitist background. Why not look more deeply at some good sociological studies, ask some educated political analysts (from both parties), dig into real statistics and surveys before telling us how “trump country” feels. I am an independent voter in a very Republican state and have asked many republicans why they voted and how they feel now. The reasons people voted for this disasterous president are way more varied than the media gives credit for and even in our conservative state they are very disappointed in his performance. I couldnt believe he would ever get elected in the first place ( thanks to the media) and whats happened since has exceeded my worst fears. He is playing the press and the public like a game show host distracting us with foolish tweets while some serious stuff is going down elsewhere. Wake up and inform us please! Quit pandering to the public’s selfish, fearful nature and give us some real info. Sorry to be so abrupt but I think we are in a very critical point in history and there just isnt time for game playing. We need a free press with some integrity and brains and we need you now.

    • @Sandy stone – While I agree with much of what you say, I’m afraid that I don’t have a good answer. When you see a well-reasoned and researched report derided as “Fake News,” and his followers blindly repeat it, when you see his own statements reported on, and his press people have to tell us what he “really meant,” so that we can’t even believe our own eyes and ears, it gets frustrating.

      Your “game show host” statement really struck a chord with me, looking back to his Gorsuch announcement. Why in the world did the networks give him 30-minutes of prime time for his big “reveal” when it could have been done with just a “crawl” on the bottom of the screen, or a brief announcement, with details on the late news baffles me!

  • This issue is more than Republican and Democrat. It is about finally designing a workable healthcare model for all US Citizens and the constant monitoring of the program to make changes if something doesn’t work well. I have been in healthcare for over 30 years and spoken to many people in healthcare over the years, physicians, administrators, etc. and we have been waiting for decades in anticipation of something. We all know that ACA was passed because there was so much none healthcare money to be dispersed to programs in that bill and that people in DC said they voted and would read after it is approved. Could you imagine if we ran our hospital, business, home that way? Did anyone go back and actually read and make changes? Was progress monitered? I don’t care if it takes another year, let’s develop a model, implement, and have constant monitoring. Healthcare is to big a business and the government cannot mange something that big.

  • The people you surveyed on this, did they have an octal/mental/rectal disease? I just find it hard to believe that thinking and examining something is an idea of the past. I’m glad I don’t have these people living in my area.

    • forgot to add one thing. why don’t the trump voters ask the GOP for the same health benefits they have. what’s good for the goose, should be good for the gander. you don’t need a 200 IQ to figure this out your getting shafted

  • I wish the AHCA would have passed so that these Trump voters would bear the brunt of the fallout. They will be the most devastated as a result of Trump and Pence’s policies. They were saved this time. When tax reform comes up, these country bumpkins will not be so lucky.

  • Steven L Brooks: Steve, take just a little longer view on the idea that removing the individual mandate will drive cost “UP”. There are those people that make a choice today; do not get insured and allow the hospital mandate to take care of them if injured. When the equation becomes “get insured” or “die” I think the choice will have a different outcome. The health will become insured and drive the costs down. The “prime directive” of the Republicans is to let the free market be free and let natural selection remove those that make a poor choice. Consider this is the position of any true conservative Republican; you heard it from a reliable source.

    • This is true…natural selection will favor a democratic majority. The poor whites who hated Obamacare because a black president’s name is on it will be those who lose when this is all over. Quite frankly, the middle class will be fine, it’ll suck but we will be OK. The poor whites will get what they voted for soon enough.

    • To Oumou Bah; the “natural selection” would be applied to mostly to those in the middle class that “opt out” of being insured. The “poor” would be picked up by Medicare or have the costs shared by subsidies. The middle class will either “opt in” or be subject to natural selection. I would think they would chose the “opt in” and thus spread the cost to the insurance companies across a large healthy population; driving down the costs for everyone. It would have the same intended effect as the “individual mandate” but a bit more draconian.

    • Except that nobody expects to get sick or injured. That’s why there is compulsory auto liability insurance. Otherwise people wouldn’t get insurance, then when they injured someone else and couldn’t afford a judgement against them, the victims wouldn’t get compensated.

    • Steven L Brooks; I think you need to take a closer look at the consequences of not having medical insurance. That fender bender that just happened; let’s look at that kind of event. The person that ran the red light ended up with a broken leg and punctured lung. He (it’s also some dumb white guy) doesn’t have insurance; his consequence, most likely death. The other person that was in the other car also needed medical attention but is covered by insurance; their consequence, most likely recovery. The mandate on auto insurance is not for the owner of the vehicle but is mandated by the loan company to cover outstanding debt and the government to address damage/injury to third parties. It is kind of different motivation that the mandate for health insurance.

    • @A_ReliableSource – At least in my state (MA) there are TWO different compulsories: There is the one by the loan company to protect their investment, and that requirement goes away once the loan is paid off. The other one is where you chose to exercise your “right” not to have insurance. That guy who ran the red light, breaking your leg and totaling your car, without compulsory liability insurance, HE’S not insured, YOU’RE not insured, so your only recourse is to sue him.

    • This is the most simplistic rationale I’ve ever heard. And what about the single man or woman who works full-time at a minimum wage job, and whose discretionary income is eaten up by food, rent, and other basic, non-optional expenses–the people who make too much to qualify for Medicaid and food stamps, but not enough to afford insurance. You think they should just roll over and die? (That’s what you mean by natural selection–you think they should die.) WTF kind of world is that?! Sorry, but our value as human beings is about more than the salary we make at our jobs, and if you can’t see that you must not have any love in your life at all, and in that case I feel sorry for you. I don’t want to live in the kind of society you propose, and neither do most people. If you feel that way, you should start your own community. See how many people sign up for it.

    • Sarh, now you are getting to the reason that this while ACA Repel and Replace effort is so difficult. Getting to the proper balance of the Republican “prime directive” and the Democratic position of compassion and getting everyone to agree is not just difficult but just may be impossible. What I have seen over the past year is what I would expect from 3rd graders in a playground fight not politicians that supposed to be working for the American people. Ever sense the introduction of that “3rd party” call the Tea Party (who’s members I call “Tea Baggers”) there does not seem to be a willingness to work toward a consensus on anything. It is the Tea Party that is pushing their “prime directive” to the max and refuse to back down or compromise. A reliable source is just the messenger, not the message.

    • @A_ReliableSource – That’s why Trump needs to realize that he isn’t running for election any more and has to actually GOVERN, If he continues to try to get alt-Right groups like the “Freedom Caucus” he will not only get next to no Democrats, but he’ll lose enough moderate Republicans to not get what he wants. If he TRULY works with the Democrats (and that means actually conceding some points to them, not just giving lip service!) then he can get enough Democrats to vote with him and leave the alt-Right spitting in the wind, and then he will really BE “Presidential” instead of just LOOKING “Presidential!”

  • Every other industrialized country has figure out how to provide everyone with universal comprehensive care for 50% of what we currently are doing (and we don’t cover 10% to 15% of the population)
    We need someone to start an education campaign and help both elected officials as well as voters understand how insurance works, what drives costs, and the basics of cost shifting in health care before anyone tries again. Neither the ACA nor the AHCA addressed the core problem of high cost care nor give people some different options and scenarios of the trade-offs involved.

    • Medicare may have its faults, but I would wager that few if any seniors would give it up! Why not simply expand it to cover younger people? The increased costs would be covered by increased Medicare taxes, which would be bearable because private medical insurance would no longer be needed, except for possible supplemental plans.

  • Gee, they sound like supporters of Obama who would never believe he screwed up, it was always Somebody Elses Fault!

    • I am glad it failed, that means this failure as it keeps getting worse is still on the democrats. I pay 1300 a month for insurance for my family. I need a welfare poor person to thank me for paying taxes so you can get cheap insurance. Bow down to me! You wont because you think your Mcdonalds career choice is our fault. But everytime I see this bill and the taxes I pay I see you as a lesser person. If the building is on fire I wont grab you. I’ll grab the other people, driving cadillac escalades. I am sure they support their selves too

    • @JesseP – So you would rather it fail, than try to fix it so that you DON’T pat 1300/month? What if it’s failure leaves you with NOTHING? It doesn’t matter who suffers (including you? Somehow I doubt it!) as long as the Democrats get the blame? It sounds like you would oppose a guaranteed solution for world peace, hunger and disease if it meant that the Democrats would get the credit!

  • There was plenty of information out there for people to have an informed opinion on Trump’s Healthcare Plan and it was not going to have a positive impact on Americans unless you are already rich. For those that think Trump is going to make everything better because he is a billionaire, how do you think he has made money? Off of you and I. He has sent jobs overseas, he has filed bankruptcy numerous times, he has not always paid taxes. We have or at least I have paid more than my fair share of taxes while he has not. With his tax savings has he created jobs – good paying jobs with benefits? No. Now he has surrounded himself with incompetent, arrogant people. Trump supporters please read newspapers, watch programming that discusses what is going on,
    get involved in your communities. His proposed budget is going to hurt this country, his immigration tactics are going to raise prices on goods … please, please, please educate yourself on the issues and don’t assume that because he is rich he will make all of us rich.

    • Unfortunately for this great America. Trump is not the answer. He is still an adolesnt class clown. But he is 70 years old now. And has not accomplished one thing he stated he would. 6 business bankruptcies and 1 personal bankruptcy shod convience anyone he has no clue. Trump has control of the house and senate and still the repubs cant get it done. it is tine to wake up and remove the blinders!!

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