GOP’s Plan B for Obamacare — repeal first, replace later — began with quiet push from Koch network

President Trump’s surprise suggestion Friday that deadlocked Senate Republicans shift their focus to simply repealing Obamacare — and worry about replacing it later — has its roots in a Koch network proposal that has been shopped around Congress for months.

The influential Koch network, backed by the billionaire industrialists, floated the idea most recently at a retreat last weekend in Colorado Springs, Colo., where key conservative lawmakers heard an earful from frustrated GOP donors about the party’s failure to deliver on their signature campaign promise.

Among those attending the gathering at the luxurious Broadmoor Hotel was Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who has been working with the White House behind the scenes on the idea.

On Friday, as GOP leaders left Washington still unable to agree how to revamp the Affordable Care Act, Sasse went public with the proposal.

Sasse’s office said the senator did not discuss the healthcare plan when he attended the Koch seminar last weekend in Colorado, where he delivered a lunchtime speech on Sunday.

But the senator has been working with the administration, including Vice President Mike Pence’s office, for months on the healthcare plan.

Pence met privately June 23 with billionaire Charles Koch ahead of the weekend seminar.

Trump had once panned the two-step approach, disagreeing with McConnell and other congressional leaders who early on also preferred the repeal now-replace later strategy.

When Sasse floated it anew, the administration signaled its support.

lisa.mascaro@latimes.com

@LisaMascaro

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