After Sen. Chuck Schumer called this week for a “fresh start” on a bipartisan health care bill, President Trump voiced doubts about whether the Senate Democratic leader was “serious.”
Perhaps the party's rhetoric has something to do with that.
From the moment Senate Republicans floated their initial draft, Democratic officials have issued dire warnings that the plan would kill thousands.
“These [Medicaid] cuts are blood money. People will die. Let's be very clear: Senate Republicans are paying for tax cuts for the wealthy with American lives,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren declared.
The following Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to predict thousands would die if a projected 23 million drop or lose insurance, accusing Republicans of trading health care for tax breaks to the rich.
“Is this what America is supposed to be about, taking away health insurance from kids with disabilities, from people with cancer in order to give tax breaks to billionaires?” the Vermont independent said.
With Senate Republicans now scrambling to come up with a new version of ObamaCare replacement legislation -- after the original version was scrapped for lack of support -- tensions over the tone of the debate could effectively close the door to a bipartisan breakthrough.
"He hasn't been serious," Trump said Wednesday, of Schumer's call to negotiate health care with Democrats.
While the door was barely open for bipartisan talks to begin with, House Speaker Paul Ryan characterized Democrats’ rhetoric as “hysterical” during an interview with a Wisconsin radio station.
"The rhetoric is just over the top,” said Ryan on Thursday, according to The Associated Press. “I have seen a lot in my day and this rhetoric, it's hysterical, it's hyperbolic. It's really something.”
“The brief time when we were *not* accusing those we disagree with of murder was nice while it lasted,” Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch tweeted after Sanders' comments.
But it didn't last.
“Forget death panels. If Republicans pass this bill, they're the death party,” Hillary Clinton tweeted about the Senate's initial bill.
Some Democrats traveled the country to ring the alarm. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper came to Washington to lobby against the measure, which he said was immoral and would lead to 100,000 deaths by 2026.
Democrats fine-tuned their attack by pinning down a figure for how many people would die if Republicans got their way. They cited figures from the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, that up to 217,000 more people could die by 2026 if the bill passes.
A column promoting their research paper was posted on CAP’s website on June 22, the day before the Senate Republicans unveiled their draft repeal-and-replace plan.
Their analysis was based on a May Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of coverage losses under House Republicans' health care plan. CBO's subsequent analysis of the Senate bill showed similar reductions in enrollment, though made clear that millions would "lose" health insurance because they would no longer be forced to buy it.
According to CAP, if 23 million fewer people have health insurance, then the coverage losses from the Senate bill would result in 27,700 additional deaths in 2026 (and 217,000 over the decade).
In an email to Fox News, Devon Kearns, media relations director for CAP, said their report assumed that one death will occur for every 830 people who lose coverage, a methodology first used by the White House Council of Economic Advisers under the Obama administration to calculate reductions in mortality associated with the ObamaCare.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi went further in suggesting GOP health care plans were dishonoring God.
"I know my colleagues are people of faith. They tell us that all of the time,” said Pelosi.
"So, this is God's creation, we have a real responsibility to it," she continued. "To minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us."
Fox News' Jennifer G. Hickey contributed to this report.