Win McNamee/Getty Images
U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) following a meeting of the House Republican caucus at the U.S. Capitol May 2, 2017.
After six weeks of existential angst following the Republican Party’s inability to corral a consensus and get an alternative to Obamacare on the House floor for a vote, the GOP leadership says they will put their plan to a floor vote on Thursday. The move to vote on the Republican health bill means the party leadership believes it has done enough to satisfy recalcitrant members, particularly the Freedom Caucus, which torpedoed attempts to move the previous bill forward. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Slate’s Jim Newell Wednesday evening that he’s confident he has the votes.
“A Washington Post analysis showed 20 House Republicans either opposed to or leaning against the bill late Wednesday, and 36 more either undecided or unclear in their positions,” according to the Washington Post. “If no Democrats support the bill, House Republicans can lose no more than 22 GOP votes to pass their bill.” One lingering sticking point was how to deal with preexisting conditions. House Republicans struggled to come up with a plan that appeased the far-right in the party that chafed at the cost of providing health care to people and party moderates, who saw the potential moral (and political) hazard of pricing millions of already sick Americans out. Here’s what they came up with (via the Post):
Under the GOP plan, states could opt out of the parts of the ACA, meaning that people with preexisting conditions could be denied coverage or charged more. Such states would have to set up high-risk pools to absorb some of the costs… Far more people with preexisting conditions are likely to lose health coverage under the GOP health-care plan—some estimate around 5 million—and depending on how many states apply for the funds, $1.6 billion a year could be spread thin…There was also uncertainty about how the bill would be scored by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office — which measures how much the legislation will cost and how many people stand to lose coverage. Republican leaders appeared willing to move ahead with a vote even before obtaining an updated score.
After the first botched effort, following a years-long tantrum over Obamacare, House Speaker Paul Ryan has been under pressure to produce a bill to fulfill one of President Trump’s—and really every Republican’s—promise of jettisoning Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The House is scheduled to go on recess Thursday until May 16, and the feeling is without a vote before adjourning it could potentially endanger any momentum the leadership has mustered in the past month. If the bill passes without any Democratic support, it will still likely face stiff scrutiny in the Senate. “The measure faces a wall of opposition from health care providers, disease advocates and retirees, and has been derided by many Senate Republicans who are all but certain to reject vast portions of it, should it clear the House,” according to the New York Times. “The American Medical Association and 10 organizations representing patients, including the American Heart Association and the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society, reiterated their opposition to the House Republican bill on Wednesday, as did the retirees’ lobby AARP.”
Olivier Douliery—Pool/Getty Images
Donald Trump giving his "I just nailed it" look.