GOP plans to take its time on se­cond try for Oba­macare re­peal.

Re­vi­sion seeks to have in­sur­ers pay for ‘es­sen­tial’ care

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY TOM HOW­ELL JR.

House Repub­li­cans are try­ing to rally sup­port for their new Oba­macare re­peal and won’t rush a vote this time, Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Thurs­day.

Mean­while, Democrats, en­raged over the re­turn of the health care fight, are threat­en­ing to try to block a spend­ing bill to keep the gov­ern­ment open into next week, say­ing they don’t want to see Congress rush a slew of bills through just to beat an ar­ti­fi­cial Satur­day dead­line mark­ing the 100th day since Pres­i­dent Trump took of­fice.

Mr. Ryan said noth­ing has been sched­uled on health care, though he said Repub­li­cans are mak­ing “very good progress” in win­ning over new sup­port­ers.

“We’re gonna go when we have the votes,” Mr. Ryan, Wis­con­sin Republican, said.

Hard-line con­ser­va­tives who balked at the first re­peal at­tempt signed onto the bill en masse Wed­nes­day, af­ter lead­ers em­braced changes ne­go­ti­ated by the House Free­dom Cau­cus and Rep. Thomas MacArthur, a cen­trist from New Jer­sey, de­signed to cut costs for health­ier Amer­i­cans.

That left hold­outs in the cen­trist Tues­day Group as the main tar­get of lob­by­ing Thurs­day, even if few seemed to be grav­i­tat­ing to­ward the bill.

At least one — Rep. Mike Coff­man of Colorado — shifted in the op­po­site di­rec­tion, from a “yes” vote to some­one who is still mulling his stance.

Still, mem­bers of the Free­dom Cau­cus said their sup­port should put the House GOP within strik­ing dis­tance of the 216 votes needed for pas­sage.

“I can’t say how many Tues­day Group peo­ple have switched from ‘yes’ to ‘no,’ but based on pre­vi­ous whip counts, I would think that we would be very close,” Rep. Mark Mead­ows, North Carolina Republican, said.

The White House is push­ing for a vote as soon as pos­si­ble, though Demo­cratic lead­ers said GOP moder­ates who ac­qui­esce to the pres­sure will face blow­back at home af­ter the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice es­ti­mated the un­der­ly­ing GOP bill would re­sult in 24 mil­lion fewer peo­ple hold­ing in­surance a decade from now.

“You’ll pay a huge price in the 2018 elec­tion if you vote for it,” Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Demo­crat, said.

The CBO won’t have a score of the re­vised bill this week or next, mean­ing that if Repub­li­cans sched­ule a vote be­fore then, they’ll do it blind to the changes their bill would mean.

The MacArthur amend­ment would let states opt out of parts of Oba­macare re­quir­ing in­sur­ers to cover “es­sen­tial” ben­e­fits such as ma­ter­nity and men­tal health care or pre­scrip­tion drugs.

States can also waive rules re­quir­ing in­sur­ers to charge healthy con­sumers the same amount as sicker con­sumers, so long as states set up risk pools to sub­si­dize those priced out of the mar­ket, since in­sur­ers still can­not deny peo­ple with pre­ex­ist­ing med­i­cal con­di­tions.

Doc­tors’ groups, la­bor unions and in­flu­en­tial lob­bies that op­posed the GOP’s ini­tial plan, dubbed the Amer­i­can Health Care Act, sharp­ened their at­tacks af­ter re­view­ing the text.

Rick Pol­lack, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Amer­i­can Hospi­tal As­so­ci­ated, said the re­cent changes “would dra­mat­i­cally worsen the bill.”

“We are deeply con­cerned that the AHCA would re­sult in mil­lions of Amer­i­cans los­ing their cur­rent health in­surance cov­er­age,” Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion CEO James L. Madara wrote to House lead­ers. “Noth­ing in the MacArthur amend­ment reme­dies the short­com­ings of the un­der­ly­ing bill.”

Yet Mr. Ryan said the big­gest mis­take his mem­bers could make at this point is re­treat­ing from their re­peal vow.

“We promised that we would do this. If you vi­o­late your prom­ise, if you com­mit the sin of hypocrisy in pol­i­tics, that’s the greater risk, I think, to a per­son’s seat,” Mr. Ryan said.

Rep. Chris Collins, New York Republican and a key Trump ally, said he’s tried to per­suade his North­east col­leagues into the “yes” col­umn by not­ing their states prob­a­bly won’t ap­ply for waivers or en­force their own strin­gent re­quire­ments on in­sur­ers.

● Sally Per­sons con­trib­uted to this re­port.


House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said that progress is be­ing made on the GOP’s se­cond at­tempt to re­vise Oba­macare.

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