ObamaCare repeal bill narrowly clears key House hurdle
Thursday the Republican proposal to repeal and replace ObamaCare narrowly cleared a key hurdle as the House Budget Committee approved the package over the objections of three GOP members. The 19-17 vote sends the American Health Care Act to the House Rules Committee, with GOP leaders hoping to take up the bill in the full House next week.
There are 22 Republicans and 14 Democrats on the Budget Committee. The three Republican defections came from Reps. Dave Brat of Virginia, Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Gary Palmer of Alabama.
All Democrats on the committee voted against it.
The vote was considered the toughest of the three committee votes held so far on the controversial package. One more defection for Republicans would have resulted in a tie, stopping GOP leaders’ current strategy for passing the bill in its tracks.
The agenda of President Trump and congressional Republicans hinges on reforming the Affordable Care Act in some way. But the bill’s fate remains uncertain despite Thursday’s preliminary approval, amid lingering resistance to certain provisions from moderates and conservatives alike.
The White House and GOP leadership have been on a health care selling spree across the country — and Capitol Hill — trying to change minds. Complicating the process for the White House and Republican leadership is a recent analysis of the bill by the Congressional Budget Office which predicted that 24 million fewer Americans would be insured under the new legislation.
The CBO said the Republican proposal would be “less generous” with new tax credits for those receiving subsidies under the current law and the plan would likely increase average premiums in the nongroup market until 2020. The report predicted premiums would decrease over the long-term, however.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who used to be on the House Budget Committee, downplayed the CBO report.
“We disagree strenuously with the report that was put out,” Price said. “It’s just not believable is what we would suggest.”
The CBO report, compiled along with staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, also determined the Republican proposal would save money for taxpayers and refuse federal deficits by $337 billion from 2017 to 2026. Price did not seem to have a problem with that part of the analysis.