White House pushes uncertain bid to revive health care bill

Cheryl Sanders
April 21, 2017

Republican leaders remain dubious that a health care bill can emerge from the House next week after lawmakers return from their spring break.

Conservative and centrist Republicans in the House are working on a deal that some say could unite the two factions and attract enough votes to pass the stalled bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. "I'd like to say next week, but I believe we will get it. whether it's next week or shortly thereafter". Leaders of top health-care committees wouldn't commit specifically on the amendment, when contacted Thursday morning.

A resurrected Republican healthcare plan reportedly isn't likely to be ready for a congressional vote before President Donald Trump's 100th day in office.

"If [Democrats] tell us to pound sand, I think that's probably a disappointing indicator of where the next four years is going to go", Mulvaney said at an event on Thursday.

But amid increased pressure from the White House to move forward with the plan to unravel the 2010 health care law, some conservatives have questions about the changes. It would also preserve the health law's ban on insurers rejecting customers with pre-existing medical conditions.

The House legislation would dismantle the Obamacare extensive system for expanding health insurance coverage to millions of Americans, cutting almost $1 trillion in federal aid that has allowed states to expand the Medicaid safety net programs and scaling back tax subsidies that help millions of low- and middle-income Americans buy commercial health plans. With special permission from the federal government, states could write their own essential health benefits and allow insurers to charge those with preexisting conditions higher premiums, as long as they also make a high-risk pool available to those patients.

But they've found themselves at an impasse over the last few weeks, as moderates anxious about depriving consumers of certain health-care benefits and conservatives felt the GOP plan left too much of the Democrats' health-care law in place.

They cited the higher priority of passing a spending bill within days to avert a government shutdown, uncertainty over details of the developing health agreement and a need to sell it to politicians.

But the complications that remain may be far too hard to finesse at the same time the House and Senate press to pass a giant spending bill.

That was a major embarrassment to Ryan and Trump, and House leaders are loath to bring a revised health care bill to the House floor unless they are convinced it would pass.

"There is no legislative text and therefore no agreement to do a whip count on". He lamented any focus "on an arbitrary 100-day deadline". Lawmakers are expected to discuss the issue in a conference call Saturday. A Freedom Caucus source told CNBC the new health bill would get "very close" to 216 votes. The measure, which gained little traction, earned a nickname on Capitol Hill: Zombie Trumpcare.

Regardless of the bill's fate, lawmakers are approaching a critical moment on health care.

Lest we forget, these changes would be layered atop an existing bill-the American Health Care Act-that has always been extraordinarily unpopular. "Ultimately, the pricing for many benefits would become so unattractive that insurers would stop selling coverage for them altogether". The Affordable Care Act has more generous subsidies for lower-income people.

According to the Huffington Post, Republican leadership in the House and Senate continue to review the amendment. They left that meeting with Seema Verma, the new Medicare head, with no promises.

State insurance regulators with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday, pleading, "Your action is critical to the viability and stability of the individual health insurance markets in a significant number of states across the country".

But these high-risk pools were nearly universally unsuccessful before the advent of Obamacare, and the new GOP proposals drew swift criticism from many patient advocates and others.

"They also note that there is not even legislative text yet to mark a deal, which makes the prospect of holding a vote next week even more unlikely".

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