House GOP leaders scrounge for votes to exhume health bill

But moderate leader Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., said the changes ignored his concerns that the health care bill would cut too deeply into the Medicaid program for the poor and leave many people unable to afford coverage.

Until now, the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare has been a nonstarter for the partys most conservative faction, the House Freedom Caucus, which successfully blocked a vote on AHCA in the first round of negotiations in late March.

Many moderates opposed the initial Republican bill before the latest proposed changes, and there were no signs that the revisions converted any of them into supporters. But a leading GOP moderate criticized the reshaped legislation as a conservative exercise in "blame-shifting and face-saving" that wasn't winning new support from party centrists.

Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are wrestling over a Democratic demand that the must-pass spending bill keep money flowing under the health care law that helps low earners pay out-of-pocket medical costs.

By way of a reminder, Obama promised Americans his health care law would lower their premiums by $2,500 "per family, per year".

To qualify for a waiver, a state would have to explain how it would advance at least one of five purposes: reducing average premiums for consumers; increasing the number of people with coverage; stabilizing the insurance market; increasing the choice of health plans; or stabilizing premiums for people with pre-existing conditions. Even if the legislation passes the House it will face major hurdles in the Senate and is certain to be extensively revised if it survives at all.

The Freedom Caucus conceded in a statement that the bill did not "fully" repeal Obamacare but said they would support it anyway.

The GOP's Obamacare replacement effort (which initially failed in stunning fashion last month, when House Speaker Paul Ryan had to pull the bill because it lacked support among his own caucus) has had a dramatic week.

"It's pretty much everything I was looking for in terms of concessions", said Representative Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, a member of the Freedom Caucus who had opposed an earlier version.

The revised bill has been savaged by Democrats.

Republican Rep. Dan Donovan of NY told CNN on April 27 that the new Republican health care plan would result in sick people paying more for insurance coverage (video below). "That's why they are trying to jam it through the House before their Members can hear from the American people this weekend about their opposition to this terrible legislation". Congressional leaders were more focused this week on securing a spending agreement, according to multiple people involved in the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk publicly.

That seems unlikely, and Ryan reiterated that the House will vote when Republicans have enough support to win.

Before the Easter break, Dent said that members of the Tuesday Group had asked leaders of the group not to negotiate one-on-one with Meadows.

States also could obtain waivers to permit insurers to charge customers more if they are older or suffer from preexisting conditions. These were two essential features for the few moderates who supported the bill last time.

"What we have now is a health care system under great strain", he said.

"The Democrats want to shut government if we don't bail out Puerto Rico and give billions to their insurance companies for OCare failure", he tweeted, using shorthand for Obamacare.

But Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., remained a "no".

  • Joanne Flowers