Republicans Move Ahead on Obamacare Repeal Despite Weak Support

Posted March 18, 2017

Conservatives and moderate House Republicans want to pull the bill in opposing directions, GOP senators are rebelling and Republican governors say the House bill gives them nearly no new flexibility and lacks sufficient resources to protect the vulnerable.

Walker brought nine members who were also opposed to the bill with him to the White House Friday morning and afterwards said all of them are now on board, including Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama, who voted against the bill Thursday in the House Budget Committee.

"The debate that is forming will allow conservatives to enhance and improve what has been proposed", he said, "and I think this could represent a win for patients, health care providers and the taxpayer alike".

The key question is whether Trump is able to convince enough Republicans to toe the line and help pass the bill in the House, where Republicans can afford no more than 21 defections if all Democrats vote no, as expected.

The White House and some House conservatives agreed Friday to make changes in the troubled Republican health care bill in hopes of easing deep party divisions over the overhaul plan. "Moreover, Republicans are counting on cuts from former president Barack Obama's health-care law to make the budget math work on other Trump priorities, particularly major tax reductions".

The current GOP bill, which could still be changed to try to gain support from conservatives, would cause 24 million Americans to lose their current insurance coverage by 2026, thanks to a shrinking of subsidies provided to help people buy coverage and a rollback of the Medicaid program for the poor.

In what seemed like conflicting signals, Price said Friday that President Donald Trump "is very supportive" of the legislation, even though Trump himself has recently called the existing bill "very preliminary".

"We have rejiggered it", Trump told reporters afterward. And Texas has more uninsured residents than any other state.

"Last legislative session there were cuts to pediatric therapies for kids with disabilities enrolled in Medicaid", she says.

The Republican Study Committee, once a collection of house upstart conservatives, has become more moderate in recent years as the more conservative members founded the "Freedom Caucus". The Freedom Caucus had previously focused on a slate of demands that included changes to the Medicaid expansion, but now they're faced with the reality that a faster phasing-out of the expansion would scare away moderate votes.

"That's never healthy to let something sit out there too long because pretty soon you have a carcass left, " he said. The Republican plan would eliminate mandates that individuals get health insurance and that large companies provide it to their employees.

Speaking of the rise in support for the bill among politicians, Mr Trump said: "I am proud to support the replacement plan released by the House of Representatives and encouraged by members of both parties".

Hundreds of conservative activists rallied outside the Capitol in sub-freezing weather to call on congressional leaders and Trump to abandon the GOP bill and fully repeal Obama's law.

In another warning signal, four GOP governors wrote congressional leaders Thursday saying the bill's approach to Medicaid would not work for states. The so-called "age band" is now limited to charging older people three times more. States should also have the authority to set provider payment rates and the option to mandatorily enroll all populations in reduced-cost managed care plans, they said.