After an embarrassing failure in March, with President Donald Trump pushing fellow Republicans in the US Congress to try again to replace his predecessor’s healthcare reform, US House leaders decided against holding a vote on a reworked healthcare overhaul last week after failing, again, to obtain the necessary support, congressional aides said on Thursday (April 27, 2017).
White House officials had urged a floor vote on the legislation before President Donald Trump’s 100th day in office on Saturday, hoping to follow through on a campaign promise to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act.White House urged vote on #Obamacare repeal legislation before @realDonaldTrump 100th day Click To Tweet
Advocates had hoped to round up sufficient support for the measure after a group of hard-line Republican conservatives endorsed an amended version on Wednesday, according to Reuters. But by Thursday evening Republican leaders still had not amassed enough votes from moderate Republicans whose backing was also needed for passage in the House, given united Democratic opposition.
“We won’t vote this week,” said one House Republican aide, who asked not to be named. This week was not ruled out, another indicated. “We’ll call a vote when we have the votes.”
Representative Pete Sessions, a senior House Republican, also left the door open to a vote this week. Possibly referring to Trump, Sessions said that a lot of people had tried to rush the legislation to the floor, but House Republican leaders want to, “allow the time to do it right.”
At a late night gathering of the House Rules Committee he chairs, Sessions added,
“I said it will find its time, and I am satisfied we are moving at a pace, keeping people engaged.”
If President Trump was hoping for at least a House vote on Obamacare repeal before his first 100 days were up, he was setting himself up for more disappointment. He should have seen it coming.
Late on Thursday night, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy confirmed that, as expected, the GOP leadership would not bring up a revised Obamacare repeal bill to the floor by week’s end, after it became clear Thursday night that the 216 GOP votes needed to pass the healthcare bill had not materialized. At least 21 Republicans had come out against the bill, said Zero Hedge, with many more undecided. Leaders can only afford 22 GOP defections.
After a two-hour meeting in Speaker Paul Ryan’s office in the Capitol, McCarthy told reporters that the GOP had again failed to whip up enough support for the bill:
“We are not voting on healthcare tomorrow or Sunday.”
He then swiftly downplayed the devastating development, saying leaders had been discussing the short-term stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown.
“We’ve been making great progress, and when we have the votes we’ll vote on it,” said McCarthy
Well, maybe. It might happen, you know. Just not yet.
“I’m not comfortable with it and I told the leadership that,” Representative Fred Upton said Friday, in a crystal-clear example of the continuing obstacles to the GOP effort to revive its stalled repeal plan.
Upton helped guide dozens of Obamacare repeal measures through the House in recent years, but he has deep reservations about the GOP’s current bill, according to Bloomberg.
Until five months ago, Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, chaired the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over much of healthcare policy. Now, he’s not ready to support the current bill and said the most recent revisions have made it worse.
Speaker Ryan and other GOP leaders wouldn’t say how many more Republican votes they need to win, although several prior holdouts in the conservative House Freedom Caucus now publicly back the bill.
“Right now we know we’re in a stronger position than we were, but we don’t know for sure if we have the votes,” said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who isn’t a member of the caucus.
One intractable problem is that the recent changes made to the bill to win over the conservative holdouts have unsurprisingly alienated some GOP moderates.
Upton, for example, said his main concern is how those revisions affect coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions.
“The issue is potential higher costs to those with pre-existing illnesses,” he said. “They’re trying to say that they still maintain access with continuous coverage but the question is what happens on the costs side of the thing.”
Democrats have been left out of the process entirely. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday called the GOP health bill “the zombie” that she says keeps getting worse. She credited mobilization against the bill from outside of Congress for slowing down the Republican effort.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York asked, “How many more times do they need to fail” before working with Democrats on needed fixes to the Affordable Care Act.
Taking a leave of absence from the Capitol Hill folly and journeying to rational Chicago, American Hospital Association CEO Rick Pollack said,
“The amendment proposed [last] week would dramatically worsen the bill.”
“AHCA would result in millions of Americans losing their current health insurance coverage.”
If that isn’t consensus about the looming catastrophe from the groups that actually provide health care to all of us, what is?
Trumpcare 2.0 has providers of medical care mobilizing once again to derail what they say is an even worse version than what US House Speaker Paul Ryan wouldn’t bring to a vote last month, says Forbes.
An amendment to the AHCA negotiated by the House Freedom Caucus proposes to permit states to opt out of certain Obamacare requirements compelling health plans to provide the so-called “essential health benefits” under the ACA that include everything from hospitalization and mental health coverage to maternity care.
So yes, Mr. President. Another embarrassing failure for you and House Speaker Ryan. But what makes this one unique is that, as Bloomberg notes, House republicans appear to be getting wise to the Senate’s deception. Several moderate ones are visibly frustrated about the renewed push to pass the bill after leaders made changes aimed at winning over conservatives.
“We’ve been through this before,” Republican Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said Thursday. “The business model around here is to load the bill up, make it as conservative as possible, send it to the Senate and have the Senate clean it up and send it back, and the very people who are placated on the first launch won’t be there on the final. And that dog ain’t hunting anymore.”
Meanwhile, the House did pass a one-week continuing resolution (CR) on Friday, buying bipartisan negotiators more time to pass a bill to fund the government for the rest of the 2017 fiscal year.Steve's Take: While @realDonaldTrump failed to repeal #Obamacare, at least lights are still on Click To Tweet
Repealing and replacing Obamacare didn’t happen in your first 100 days, Mr. President. But at least on your watch the lights are still on in the federal government–for now. It may not be much, but at least it’s not nothing.