Trump calls House version of health care bill "mean"

President Trump gathers with Vice President Mike Pence and congressional Republicans in the Rose Garden of the White House after the House of Representatives approved the American Health Care Act to repeal major parts of Obamacare and replace it with the Republican health care plan, in Washington May 4, 2017.

Reuters/Carlos Barria

President Trump told Republican senators that the House health care bill is "mean" and that the Senate version should be "more generous," CBS News' John Nolen confirmed, citing a congressional source. 

The remarks, first reported by the Associated Press, were a surprising critique of a Republican-written House measure whose passage Mr. Trump fought for and embraced. They also seem to undercut efforts by Senate conservatives to impose restrictions in their chamber's legislation, such as curbing the Medicaid health care program for the poor and limiting the services insurers must cover.

The sources say the president did not say what aspects of the bill he was characterizing. Mr. Trump's comments were described by people who received accounts of a White House lunch the president had Tuesday with 15 GOP senators. They spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal a closed-door conversation.

A White House official declined to comment to CBS News.

The report about Mr. Trump's comments emerged moments after Mr. Trump lashed out against Obamacare, and touted the future of health care during brief remarks in Wisconsin, where he landed Tuesday afternoon to discuss workforce development, the White House's theme for the week. 

The president's private comments seem to fly in the face of his public ones, in which he has called the House bill, "incredibly well crafted," among other things. 

Mr. Trump lauded the House's health care bill when it passed last month, hosting a celebratory event in the White House Rose Garden with GOP members of Congress.

"This is a great plan, and this is a repeal and a replace of Obamacare, make no mistake about it," Mr. Trump said at the time. 

"It's going to be an unbelievable victory when we get it through the Senate," he added. 

According to the Congressional Budget Office, 23 million fewer Americans would be insured under the House GOP plan, 14 million more people uninsured than under Obamacare. House Republicans were criticized for passing a bill before the CBO scored it.

It's unclear when the Senate will have legislation ready, but GOP leaders have indicated they hope to vote on legislation by July 4, only a few weeks away.