The Senate Republican healthcare bill will put Americans in rural areas at risk, Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said Tuesday.
At a town hall meeting Monday night, King said there was an "outpouring of concern" over the potential impact of the bill, and "unfortunately, the answers I had to give them was, 'It's not good news,'" King told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
"Maine is a largely rural state. I've met with a bunch of hospitals, and here's an important fact — and I'm sure this is true in many rural states — in eight of our 16 counties, the hospital is the largest employer… there are huge economic development or job implications of this.
"They all told me, number one, they're already hurting, and number two, this is going to be devastating," King said, adding that "they're either going to have to shrink or close, and that's just the reality. And if you're an hour-and-a-half or an hour from another hospital, that's a tremendous loss to the local community.
"If the hospitals have to eat a lot of what they call uncompensated care, that gets translated into everyone else's insurance costs," King noted.
The senator said he shares the position of President Donald Trump on healthcare, but said the president is not providing leadership on the issue.
"I want everybody covered. I want low deductibles and no pre-existing conditions. The problem is, the bills he's supporting do none of those things.
King asked the "Morning Joe" panel: "Have you seen a single person come out on the air on your program or anywhere else saying this is a good bill?
"It's total silence. There's nobody saying this is a good idea."
As for the political repercussions of the bill, King said that for Republicans, getting rid of Obamacare seems to be their priority. "I don't understand it, except that they want to check the box of 'We eliminated Obamacare.' I think that's the political message."
King said Republicans were playing into Democrats' hands and "I think you're just handing the Democrats a weapon to hit you over the head with."