Obamacare repeal and replace vote set for Thursday, outlook unsure

UPDATE — 3/21, 9:01 a.m. EDT: Media sources indicated Monday that House Republicans will propose a series of amendments to the American Health Care Act in an attempt to shore up GOP support for the bill.

New provisions not included in the original text include: $85 billion in tax credits for Americans aged 50–64 to buy health insurance; Gutting of the individual and employer mandate in 2017; Giving states the option of attaching a work requirement for Medicaid recipients and taking less federal money for the program.

 

The House of Representative is set to vote on the new healthcare bill Thursday, March 23, after compromises between President Trump and some GOP legislators was apparently enough to earn more Republican votes.

After House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) unveiled the “American Health Care Act” in early March, many congresspeople expressed concern about changes to Medicaid.

On Friday, legislators hammered out a deal that included two changes aimed to please conservative lawmakers. The first change allows states to subject childless adults to work requirements, while the second allows states to receive federal “block” funding versus receiving funds based on individual numbers. Those changes seem to be enough to garner a least a couple of votes.

“Those were two changes that were significant reforms and actually add significantly to our vote count, including a member who voted ‘no’ yesterday in committee who is now a ‘yes,’” said House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).

As the House works to modify the American Health Care Act to include the promised changes, there are still worries that Republicans do not have enough votes to move the bill from the House to the Senate.

Some legislators, especially those in districts vulnerable to a 2018 challenger, are still not publicly committing to the proposed healthcare law. Assuming all House Democrats vote against the bill, as promised, Republicans will need to make sure 216 legislators fall in line and vote “yes.”  However, even if the House does pass the bill onto the Senate, there are no guarantees the bill will make it through Congress’ upper chamber.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is a prime example of a GOP senator who once fervently promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but is now wavering on that previous position. Ernst, who has a large population that benefited from the Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid, is anxious about how the new healthcare bill will affect her constituents.

“I am legitimately undecided on this,” she said. “And you will hear that from a number of my colleagues, as well.”

Over the past few weeks, President Trump has shown his investment in the proposed healthcare bill and has played key role in helping negotiate compromises in exchange for votes. As he noted, it’s not an easy task, and by the end, it is likely no one will be completely happy.

“You do something for one side and the other side doesn’t like it,” the president said.

However, regardless who’s happy or not, Thursday will be a litmus test for the former reality TV show star’s self-proclaimed deal making abilities.

 

[CNN] [Washington Post] [Roll Call] [Politico] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy Susan Walsh/AP via CNN]