President Trump reaches out to lawmakers on health care as another says 'no'

WASHINGTON, June 23 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump made calls to fellow Republicans in the U.S. Senate on Friday to mobilize support for their party's health care overhaul while acknowledging the legislation is on a "very, very narrow path" to passage.

Five Republican senators have announced they will not support the bill, which is designed to repeal and replace Obamacare, in its current form.

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White House officials said on Friday that Trump has been in touch with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and made calls on Thursday and Friday to other lawmakers.

Trump's role is expected to become more pronounced in coming days as the vote nears. Senate Republican leaders may rely on the deal-making former businessman to lean on conservative senators who are balking at the bill.

"We're pleasantly surprised with a lot of the support that's already come out and I think we'll continue to work through (it,) in particular the four individuals who have expressed some ideas and concerns," White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters at a White House briefing.

With all Democrats expected to oppose the measure, the Republicans can afford to lose the support of only two of their 52 members if they want to pass the legislation.

After Spicer spoke, Republican Senator Dean Heller became the fifth Republican opponent on Friday, saying he would not support the bill in its current form.

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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 04: Republican House members join U.S. President Donald Trump on stage as he speaks during a Rose Garden event May 4, 2017 at the White House in Washington, DC. The House has passed the American Health Care Act that will replace the Obama era� Affordable Healthcare Act with a vote of 217-213. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 04: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) (R) greets House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (L) during a Stop 'Trumpcare' rally May 4, 2017 in front of the Capitol in Washington, DC. Congressional Democrats joined activists for a rally to urge not to replace Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 04: U.S. President Donald Trump shares a moment with Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) during a Rose Garden event May 4, 2017 at the White House in Washington, DC. The House has passed the American Health Care Act that will replace the Obama era� Affordable Healthcare Act with a vote of 217-213. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 04: U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (L) gestures as Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wait for their turns to speak during a Stop 'Trumpcare' rally May 4, 2017 in front of the Capitol in Washington, DC. Congressional Democrats joined activists for a rally to urge not to replace Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 4: Charlie Wood, 4, of Charlottesville, Va., plays with bubbles during rally on the East Front lawn of the Capitol to oppose the House Republicans' bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on May 4, 2017. She was born 3 1/2 months earlier and her mother Rebecca, at left, holding a picture of Charlie in the hospital, fears changes to the ACA will negatively effect her care. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House following the House of Representative vote on the health care bill on May 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. Following weeks of in-party feuding and mounting pressure from the White House, lawmakers voted 217 to 213 to pass a bill dismantling much of Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act and allowing US states to opt out of many of the law's key health benefit guarantees / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner listen to US President Donald Trump speak in the Rose Garden of the White House following the House of Representative vote on the health care bill on May 4, 2017 in Washington, D Following weeks of in-party feuding and mounting pressure from the White House, lawmakers voted 217 to 213 to pass a bill dismantling much of Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act and allowing US states to opt out of many of the law's key health benefit guarantees / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 9: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., conducts a presentation in the House studio of the American Health Care Act, the GOP's plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, March 9, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07: U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price compares a copy of the Affordable Care Act (R) and a copy of the new House Republican health care bill (L) during the White House daily press briefing March 7, 2017 at the White House in Washington, DC. Secretary Price answered questions on the new healthcare bill during the briefing. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan speaks to the media about the American Health Care Act at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 13: U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price (L) and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney talk to reporters following the release of the Congressional Budget Office report on the proposed American Health Care Act outside the White House West Wing March 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. Price said 'We disagree strenuously' with the findings of the CBO report about the Republican's attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan speaks at a news conference about Congressional efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
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U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan speaks to the media about the American Health Care Act at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: (L-R) U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump greet House of Representatives committee leaders (L-R) House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane Black (R-TN), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-WA) and Education and Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) before a meeting to discuss the American Health Care Act in the Roosevelt Room at the White House March 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. The proposed legislation is the Republican attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan speaks to the media about the American Health Care Act at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (L) looks on as US Secretary of Health and Human Service Tom Price (R) points to a print-out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and a copy of the new plan introduced to repeal and replace the ACA during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC on March 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 04: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a Stop 'Trumpcare' rally May 4, 2017 in front of the Capitol in Washington, DC. Congressional Democrats joined activists for a rally to urge not to replace Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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"This bill that's currently in front of the United States Senate is not the answer," Heller, a moderate who is up for re-election in 2018, said at a news conference in Las Vegas.

That could add Heller's name to Trump's call list. A White House official said the Trump has pushed his team to stay involved and plans to flex his negotiating muscle, the official said.

An outside political group aligned with the White House, America First Policies, said it is planning an advertising campaign targeting Heller for his opposition to the bill.

Healthcare stocks closed down 0.1 percent on Friday, clawing back some losses after the sector dropped sharply late in the session on Heller's announcement.

The Senate's 142-page proposal, worked out in secret by a group led by McConnell, aims to deliver on a central Trump campaign promise to undo former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, which has provided coverage to 20 million Americans since it was passed in 2010.

Republicans view the law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, as a costly government intrusion and say individual insurance markets created by it are collapsing.

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WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 22: Ivanka Trump (R), daughter and assistant to President Donald Trump, plays with her daughter Arabella Rose Kushner (L) in the Rose Garden during during a Congressional Picnic on the South Lawn of the White House June 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump and the first lady hosted their first Congressional Picnic with the theme, Picnic in the Park, which is �odeled after a summer evening in Central Park in New York.� (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 22: Ivanka Trump (L), daughter and assistant to President Donald Trump, shares a moment with her daughter Arabella Rose Kushner (R) during during a Congressional Picnic on the South Lawn of the White House June 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump and the first lady hosted their first Congressional Picnic with the theme, Picnic in the Park, which is modeled after a summer evening in Central Park in New York (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 22: Ivanka Trump (2nd L), daughter and assistant to President Donald Trump, and her children, daughter Arabella Rose Kushner (R), sons Joseph Frederick Kushner (3rd L) and Theodore James Kushner (L) watch remote control toy sail boats in the fountain at the South Lawn during a Congressional Picnic at the White House June 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump and the first lady hosted their first Congressional Picnic with the theme, Picnic in the Park, which is modeled after a summer evening in Central Park in New York. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US First Lady Melania Trump listens to her husband President Donald Trump speak at the Congressional picnic at the White House in Washington, DC, on June 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 22: Jared Kushner (C), son-in-law and senior advisor to President Doanld Trump, talks to guests during a Congressional Picnic at the South Lawn of the White House June 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump and the first lady hosted their first Congressional Picnic with the theme, Picnic in the Park, which is modeled after a summer evening in Central Park in New York. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive at the Congressional picnic at the White House in Washington, DC, on June 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
First Lady Melania Trump holds a baby as U.S. President Donald Trump (not pictured) greets members of the congress and their families as they attend a congressional picnic event at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 22: Guests attend a Congressional Picnic at the White House June 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump and the first lady hosted their first Congressional Picnic with the theme, Picnic in the Park, which is modeled after a summer evening in Central Park in New York. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 22: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (2nd L) delivers beer and wine to members of the media at a press riser as Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) (L) look on during a Congressional Picnic on the South Lawn of the White House June 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump and the first lady hosted their first Congressional Picnic with the theme, Picnic in the Park, which is modeled after a summer evening in Central Park in New York. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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FOUR CONSERVATIVES OPPOSE BILL

On Thursday, four of the Senate's most conservative members said the new plan failed to rein in the federal government's role.

Rand Paul, who has rejected the plan along with fellow Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Ron Johnson, said fundamental problems remained that would leave taxpayers subsidizing health insurance companies.

Trump, in an interview with Fox News that aired on Friday morning, called the group of conservative lawmakers "four very good people."

"It's not that they're opposed," he said. "They'd like to get certain changes. And we'll see if we can take care of that."

Trump said getting approval would require traveling a "very, very narrow path" but that "I think we're going to get there."

"It's going to be a good bill," Trump said in a separate Fox News interview to air on Sunday.

For the House of Representatives' version of healthcare, Trump held regular meetings with representatives at the White House. He celebrated the bill's narrow passage last month in a Rose Garden event with House Republican leaders.

Trump later criticized the House bill privately as "mean" and this week called for a health plan "with heart." He indicated the Senate plan met that request.

McConnell said in an interview with Reuters last month that he told Trump early on in the process that he did not need his help but that there may be a role for him later.

The Senate bill maintains much of the structure of the House's but differs in key ways. It would phase out Obamacare's expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor more gradually, waiting until after the 2020 presidential election, but would enact deeper cuts starting in 2025. It also would provide more generous tax subsidies than the House bill to help low-income people buy private insurance.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, Richard Cowan, Susan Cornwell, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Caroline Humer, Lewis Krauskopf, Ginger Gibson and Susan Heavey; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Bill Trott)

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