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Rep. Russell Talks About Health Care

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

After nearly seven years of opposition to the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, Republicans’ plan to "repeal and replace" it fell wildly short last month.

Plagued by poor approval ratings, painful economic predictions and vicious party infighting from the GOP's small but vocal Freedom Caucus, the promise for millions struggling with rising healthcare costs wasn’t kept. 

“In this case, the American people lose,” Rep. Steve Russell said in an interview on Friday. “They expect us to do our jobs. They expect us to come together.” 

Russell placed the blame largely on a the 30-member Freedom Caucus. The group is made of staunch conservative ideologues with enough numbers to halt almost any piece of legislation within the House of Representatives.

“I've not been pleased with small groups of contrarians and ideologues, I call them,” Russell said about the small caucus’ opposition to the American Health Care Act. "Look half a sandwich is better than going hungry."

Talks to overhaul the AHCA are already underway. It's unclear what will be kept and what won't this time around. The original draft was opposed by 76 percent of Americans, and according to the Congressional Budget Office, it would have sent premiums soaring leaving as many as 14 million people without health insurance by 2018. 

Republicans like Russell are hoping this overhaul will help heal over some of the divides left behind both within the party and across the aisle after the carnage of the 2016 presidential election.

“It's time that we play team ball instead of using wrestling rules in a football game. It's time for us to move forward,” Russell said.

Then there's the political fallout. Republicans are hoping this won't come back to haunt them next year praying that a promise kept later is better than not keeping it at all.

“The American people, you know, they'll forgive a lot of past sins if they see we're trying to recover ourselves but if we sit around and do nothing, shame on us,” Russell said.

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