Saturday, 20 January, 2018

Republicans still can't find the support they need to overturn Obamacare

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Melissa Porter | 01 May, 2017, 12:54

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., center, flanked by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif. and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., leaves the podium during a news conference after a GOP caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday.

Overall, Republicans were closer than previous attempts, as more conservative lawmakers who had resisted the bill in previous weeks, got on board in recent days.

The amendment, negotiated by Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows and Rep. Tom MacArthur, a member of the House Republican's moderate Tuesday Group, would allow states to waive key Obamacare regulations that stopped insurance agencies from charging people with preexisting conditions higher premiums and give states the option to opt out of requirements that they cover as "essential health benefits", such as emergency services and maternity care.

This week, Ryan and members of the House Freedom Caucus expressed optimism for the new bill but not for the vote count. "You have to make sure when you're gaining three votes I'm not losing two here or three there".

Its political objective was to create a bill that could survive the House, survive the Senate, survive a conference and make it to Mr. Trump's desk to fulfill one of his and the party's biggest political promises.

Seeing that Democrats will nearly certainly unite against the plan, any health care deal would have to play the tricky game of winning over both conservatives and moderates in the Republican Party to surpass the 50 percent threshold of 216 votes in the House of Representatives.

The newest proposed Obamacare deal centers on something called the "MacArthur Amendment," proposed by New Jersey GOP Congressman Tom MacArthur.

To win over conservatives, House leaders added new provisions to the bill that would give states the option to allow insurers to charge people with pre-existing medical conditions higher rates. "The Freedom Caucus changes will partially repeal Obamacare while driving down health insurance costs for tens of millions of Americans". But they remained shy of the support they'd need to fully rouse the measure back to life, and it was uncertain when the vote would occur.

To be clear, the chances that the Senate will vote for this bill as is are basically zero.

Republican Cong. Walter Jones of North Carolina said he still opposes the bill.

The White House had pressured GOP leaders to push legislation replacing President Barack Obama's health care law through the House this week, in time for Trump to claim bragging rights by the symbolic 100th day.

What infuriated GOP leaders, as well as Trump, was that in last month's negotiations, they made several tweaks to the bill that were created to bring on conservative support. Leadership can lose no more than 22 votes for legislation to pass.

Other Republicans such as Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent, Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and California Rep. Jeff Denham plan to vote no on the current legislation.

The dispute with Democrats, especially House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, threatened to hold up the $1 trillion-plus spending bill.

And he said that people with pre-existing health conditions would be protected "even better. under our plan" than they are now under Obamacare. But there were a lot of undecided members.

Meadows said based on his conversations, he does think "that this bill will provide a good foundation with a few amendments in the Senate and ultimately will be signed into law by the president". He said the vote would not occur Friday or Saturday. "People have expected us to do this for a long time and it's something that needs to get done", said Rep. However, the GOP has avoided bringing amended versions to a vote because the leadership knew it still did not have enough support within the Republican caucus.