House Republicans, vowing to repeal and replace Obamacare since its passage in 2010, passed a revised health care bill Thursday to undo the Affordable Care Act’s most popular consumer protections. The mandate for individuals to maintain health insurance and end expanded Medicaid eligibility were also on the chopping block. The vote was hastily called after Republicans won over moderates with an amendment to provide $8 billion to help patients with pre-existing conditions afford higher premiums.
The bill that House Republicans, hastily pushed through the House on Thursday, is likely to undergo major changes in the Senate. A concern for some members of the Senate is that the CBO had not analyzed the bill. Without an official CBO score, which helps to measure the impact of legislation for Congress to make informed decisions, the merits of the bill, will likely come under harsh scrutiny. The health care bill is expected to undergo significant changes in the Senate, where some moderate GOP senators have already come out against the legislation.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, expressed concern about the process of the House vote.
“A bill—finalized yesterday, has not been scored, amendments not allowed, and 3 hours final debate—should be viewed with caution,” the South Carolina Republican tweeted.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham expressed concerns about how House Republicans were rushing in their attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Thursday’s vote.
Senate has stated that they will review the House bill but will write its version over the next few weeks. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, stated the following:
“We want to get it right,” Alexander said Thursday on the Senate floor. “There will be no artificial deadlines.” If the Senate passes its own bill, the House will either have to approve the Senate version or negotiate a compromise with senators. Any compromise bill would need to be approved by both the House and Senate before being sent to President Trump to sign, according to Alexander.
Senate Republicans stated on Thursday that they wouldn’t vote on the House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, but will write their own legislation instead. On the heels of the passage of the Health Care Bill, a Senate proposal is being developed by a 12-member working group. Elements of the House bill will be reviewed but does not guarantee that they will be incorporated into the Senate’s bill. Senators said that the House bill is not their starting point, and will be revised through the amendment process.
Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo, said that “The safest thing to say is there will be a Senate bill, but it will look at what the House has done and see how much of that we can incorporate in a product that works for us in reconciliation.”
Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said that the Senate will be drafting a bill, he further stated, “That is what I’ve been told.”
The 12-member work group according to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, has been meeting for weeks. Conryn stated that the team is building a consensus among their conference, which is what the working group is designed to do. “To get to a compromise we can agree to and then present it to the larger conference.”
Prior to passage of the health care bill—Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., appealed to his Republican colleagues Thursday to slow the process down and work with Democrats.
He said the House bill, despite the late addition of $8 billion, would still cause insurance premiums to go up 20% in the first few years while increasing average costs by more than $1,500 a year for middle-class Americans. He also criticized a provision that would allow insurers to dramatically increase what they could charge older Americans in comparison to younger consumers.
The 217-213 very narrow House vote underscored stark divisions over the legislation, which will face hurdles in the Senate, before coming close to law. Although the passage represents a major victory for Trump and House Republicans, fear among Americans who may lose their insurance, or not become insured because of pre-existing conditions, is a significant loss and concern.
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