CHICAGO (CBS) — Six weeks after their first attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare fell apart, House Republicans were set to vote Thursday on a revamped health care deal, and this time they said they have the votes.
Republican leaders expressed confidence their updated American Health Care Act has at least 216 yes votes in the House, enough to pass the measure to the Senate.
The development comes after weeks of negotiations to bring in support from reluctant moderates and the conservative Freedom Caucus, as well as an 11th hour push by Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump to win over skeptical lawmakers. They were able to work out an amendment that would provide an extra $8 billion over five years to help people with pre-existing conditions afford their insurance premiums.
“We’ve already debated a large portion of this. We’ll finish off the rest of the debate, and we’ll take a vote,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said.
House Democrats blasted the decision to call a vote on the legislation on Thursday, especially since the new version of the bill has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office.
“People want us to get it right, and I don’t think anybody here believes that we’re getting this right ,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA).
If all Democrats oppose the legislation, as expected, Republicans can only afford to lose 22 votes to send the measure to the Senate. CBS News has confirmed only 16 Republicans plan to vote no.
The GOP plan would reduce the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for lower income Americans, and eliminate the taxes on the wealthy used to pay for them. Instead, people making less than $75,000 a year would get age-based tax credits.
The bill seeks to lower premiums by allowing states to opt out of Obamacare’s minimum coverage rules, which includes maternity care and emergency services.
States could also allow insurers to charge higher rates for some with pre-existing conditions — but only if those states set up high risk pools to help people afford it.
It also includes language that prohibits federal funding for “essential community providers,” like Planned Parenthood.
Democrats note the plan has been panned by a number of major interest groups, including the American Medical Association, AARP, and the American Cancer Society. But Republicans argue the Affordable Care Act has it’s own problems, with insurance providers pulling out every month.
The consensus of most experts is that this Republican plan might save money for people who are younger, healthier, and wealthier, but drive up costs for older and sicker Americans.
“Trumpcare means heart-stopping premium increases for Americans with anything from asthma to cancer – the list goes on, and no Band-Aid amendment will fix it,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said.
There are few House Republicans out there arguing this is a great bill. Their main goal is to pass something on to the Senate, and let that chamber make major changes.