Leaders Need Votes for Health Bill on Eve of House Showdown

Cheryl Sanders
March 29, 2017

Trump is speaking at the National Republican Congressional Committee's March Dinner at the National Building Museum.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has been the driving force behind the bill, said afterwards: "He was truly spectacular".

Trump met with some members of the moderate Republican "Tuesday Group" on Tuesday, and for one of those members, face time with the president wasn't enough to sway him. It's one thing to hold your nose and vote for something that actually succeeds in unseating ObamaCare, it's another thing to take the plunge for Trump and then have Mike Lee and the conservatives in the Senate make it all for naught.

He said the president had told Republicans they'd made a promise to voters past year to repeal and replace Obamacare. He hopes to pass it before the April recess, bypassing Senate committees and going straight to the floor. For example, the American Health Care Act would nix the requirement that most Americans purchase insurance, but it would keep in place a provision allowing younger Americans to stay on their parents' health plans until age 26. Lawmakers who support the bill will say they do have the votes to pass the bill. The committee spent 13 hours in session Wednesday without setting up a formal rule governing debate on the health care bill, which had been expected to be voted on by the full House Thursday.

The ads are meant to spur calls of opposition to Darrell Issa of California, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Don Bacon of Nebraska, Leonard Lance and Tom MacArthur of New Jersey, John Kakto and Peter King of New York, Charlie Dent and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Rob Wittman of Virginia. House leaders have not appeared willing to budge, but several senators have raised that concern as well.

The conservative Koch network is meanwhile promising to spend millions of dollars to defeat the health care overhaul backed by Presidentd Trump and top House Republicans. Trump, in turn, has called Paul on more than one occasion as part of what Paul calls a mutual-wooing operation. "I intend to vote "yes" Thursday".

"I think there's going to be a price to be paid, but it's going to be with their own voters", Spicer said of Republicans opposing the bill.

Trump addressed Republican lawmakers in a closed-door meeting at the Capitol Tuesday. Trump didn't indicate what he would do to those who vote against the bill, but during the caucus, he singled out Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., an outspoken critic of the bill.

Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pennsylvania, for instance, said he now plans to back the bill after meeting with Trump and Ryan. "If you don't pass the bill there could be political costs".

Jones was unpersuaded. He said he remains firmly against the bill.

So our first scenario is that both groups are true to their word and that Republican leaders and President Donald Trump are working to change minds. "And the Ryan plan will continue that, what I really want to do is empower the consumer so we bring down the insurance rates and bring down the ability of the insurance company to make money off the tax payer", he said.

Short of the votes, Republican leaders and President Donald Trump are pressing some two dozen conservatives to back the measure, with a vote slated for Thursday. Success could give Republicans to tackle other big issues including a major revamp of the tax code. Additionally, 36 percent said the health care system would be negatively affected, compared with 30 percent who said the system would improve if the GOP bill becomes law.

According to Republican Rep. Richard Hudson, who supports the bill, Trump agreed to GOP Rep. Steve King's request to lobby to change the essential health benefits at a later point.

His morning trip to the Capitol comes two days before the House plans a climactic vote that poses an important early test for his presidency. It is harder to channel traditional Medicaid, which has rules protecting beneficiaries including minorities whether in cities or rural, to the Republican constituencies - and much easier to channel such a block grant. That included moderates daunted by projections of 24 million Americans losing coverage in a decade and higher out-of-pocket costs for many low-income and older people, as predicted by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Another change sets aside about $85 billion for people aged 50 to 64 who purchase health insurance through the individual market and who were set to see their insurance costs increase 700 percent - from about $1,200 per year to $14,000 per year.

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