Conservatives, medical professionals balk at Obamacare replacement bill

UPDATE — 4:18 p.m. EST: Two House committees, Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce, passed Obamacare repeal-and-replace legislation Thursday along party lines after long meetings that lasted up to 28 hours.

“This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare,” said Speaker Paul Ryan. 

Despite a successful first step, the American Health Care Act is opposed by many conservative Republicans in the both the House and Senate. 

“House health care bill can’t pass Senate w/o major changes. To my friends in House: pause, start over. Get it right, don’t get it fast,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tweeted.

House GOP leadership optimistically plans for the bill to pass Congress’ lower chamber by the beginning of April, when the Senate will have a chance weigh-in.

 

Opposition to the GOP’s newly released healthcare plan is cropping up, with some of the criticism coming from congressional Republican members themselves, as well as several influential healthcare groups who have also denounced the plan.

The proposed healthcare law, currently titled the “American Health Care Act” rolls back Medicaid coverage and subsidies for low-income citizens, but also keeps some of the most popular provisions of Obamacare including coverage for preexisting conditions and the ability for children to remain on their parents’ healthcare until age 26.

The new plan also does away with a monetary penalty that is currently imposed if individuals do not have some form of healthcare coverage.

Some conservative Republicans are unhappy with the plan because they believe it is still too close to the Affordable Care Act.

“We have different ideas on replacement,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “I think we actually have fundamentally different ideas on replacement — maybe not reconcilable. That’s why I say the best way to get them done is to separate them.”

As it stands now, some far-right Republicans promise they will vote against the bill, and say that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) does not have the votes needed. Ryan cautions that the bill it still in draft form, and that by the end of the process the needed legislators will be on board to pass.

“This is the beginning of a legislative process,” Ryan said. “We’ve got a few weeks. We’ll have 218 [votes] when this thing comes to the floor, I can guarantee you that.”

To add to Ryan’s logistical headache, prominent healthcare groups have come out against the plan, saying that many poor Americans will lose coverage if the law is passed. James Madara, who serves as the chief executive of the American Medical Association, explained why his organization is concerned.

“We cannot support the AHCA as drafted because of the expected decline in health insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations,” Madara said.

Other groups that have denounced the Republican’s plan include the American Hospital Association and the trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans.

President Trump, however, has expressed support for the plan and is reportedly eager to get the new bill on his desk as soon as possible.

“I’m proud to support the replacement plan released by the House of Representatives and encouraged by members of both parties,” Trump said.

Hazarding a guess, it will probably take longer than the president thinks to gather the votes needed, especially for those GOP members worried about holding unto their seats come 2018. Those town hall meetings are about to get rougher.

 

[Roll Call] [Washington Post] [CNN] [AP] [Photo courtesy Keren Carrion via The Hill]