UPDATE: House passes American Health Care Act

UPDATE 3 —  5/4, 2:30 p.m. EDT: After heated debate on the House floor, Congress’ lower chamber passed the American Health Care Act Thursday in a close, party-line vote, 217–213.

No Democratic members voted for the legislation, which would effectively replace the Affordable Care Act.  Key provisions of the bill include the elimination of the health insurance mandate and cuts to Medicaid funding.

 

UPDATE 2 — 5/3, 3:50 p.m. EDT: After meeting with President Trump at the White House Wednesday, two moderate Republicans previously signaling opposition to the renewed healthcare reform effort in the House now say they support the soon-to-be introduced legislation.

Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Billy Long (R-Mo.) now give the GOP enough votes for the bill to pass after Trump agreed to an amendment which provides $8 billion over next half decade to help Americans with pre-existing conditions pay for health insurance.

With Upton and Long dropping their promise to vote “no”, the number of GOP members against the bill has been reduced to 19.

 

UPDATE — 1:46 p.m. EDT: According to the latest count by AP, 21 Republican House members now actively oppose the latest congressional healthcare bill that would replace Obamacare. 

Needing 216 total votes in Congress’ lower chamber to pass, one more GOP defection will likely cause the bill to fail if the entirety of the Democratic delegation also votes “no”.

 

President Trump, frustrated by the Republican-led legislature’s inability to strike a deal on healthcare has been pushing GOP lawmakers hard over the last few weeks to hammer out and pass a new healthcare law, sending Vice President Pence to meet with dozens of congressional Republicans in an attempt to mollify conservatives and moderates in the party who have bulked at various aspects of the proposed legislation.

After the conservative Freedom Caucus essentially torpedoed the last attempted vote on healthcare, GOP leadership has been working to make compromises and amendments so that its members will vote for the latest version of Obamacare “repeal and replace.” A new provision, known as the MacArthur Amendment, sponsored by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), was enough to bring the most conservative members on board.

The amendment would allow states to individually opt out of several key Affordable Care Act requirements such as essential health benefits. In a nutshell, Obamacare required all states to provide coverage for benefits deemed essential such as maternity care, or trips to the emergency room.

The MacArthur amendment would give states the freedom to decide what is essential healthcare, and what is not. On the well-cited HealthAffairs blog, expert Timothy Jost explained what that means:

“Since the ACA’s prohibitions of lifetime and annual limits and cap on out-of-pocket expenditures also only apply to essential health benefits, states granted a waiver would be able to define these protections as well,” Jost said. “The changes to the lifetime and annual limits and to the out-of-pocket caps could potentially apply as well to large group and self-insured employer plans.”

However, while conservatives have said they will support the bill, moderates were alarmed by the MacArthur Amendment which is expected to raise the price of healthcare premiums significantly for older Americans.

This week, Republican leadership’s goal is to address concerns by moderates, while maintaining the conservative votes that acquired through previous compromise. As of now, the headcount still looks iffy, and a vote on the legislation has not been scheduled.

 

[CNN] [Politico] [PolitiFact] [NBC News] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images via Business Insider]

Leave a Reply