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House Delays Vote On Obamacare Repeal Bill: Here’s What Happened

28 April 2017, 10:44 am EDT By Kalyan Kumar Tech Times
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The effort of Republicans to repeal the Obamacare with a new healthcare plan is eluding numbers within. The amendments are seeking the removal of many core provisions of the existing law with bigger a role for states.  ( Joe Raedle | Getty Images )

Despite the proclaimed stand of Republican lawmakers to repeal and replace the Obamacare, or 2010 Affordable Care Act, the numbers are eluding the GOP (grand old party) lawmakers as factions within the party are divided on the matter.

The GOP will require 216 votes to push their version of the healthcare bill. Factions, however, do not see eye to eye on many of the contentious issues incorporated in the new healthcare plan.

Skepticism On Trump's Stand

Interestingly, during his campaign, President Trump was an advocate of retaining the Affordable Care Act's protection for preexisting conditions. In November he reiterated that the provision was "one of the strongest assets" of the health-care law.

However, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the administration is backing the latest version of the bill and added that Trump will not rush or a health-care vote but wait until there are "216 votes."

Radicals Convinced But Not Moderates

Republicans have tried to convince every conservative to vote for the new bill after a deal was brokered between moderate group co-chairman Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) and conservative House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) The party saw that the Freedom Caucus will rally behind the new version of the health care bill.

However, GOP leaders have failed to convince their herd of reluctant moderates who fear the bill will demolish the protections enjoyed by people with pre-existing conditions and force the medical insurance premiums to soar.

According to sources, 17 Republicans are firmly against the new version and 10 Republicans are silent backers to that line. Another 11 GOP lawmakers are undecided and may go against the bill.

Obviously, Republicans can get the bill passed even after losing 21 Republicans by managing a few abstentions from Republican and Democratic sides. However, there is uncertainty on the actual "No" votes and that is preventing House Republicans from rushing to a vote over the revised healthcare plan.

While leaders express that they are within the range of passing the bill, they are apprehensive of bringing the bill to the floor as fence-sitting Republicans may join the majority and hammer down the new law.

March Defeat And Blame Game

The renewed effort of Republicans to push their alternative healthcare bill follows the incident in late March when such a bill failed to muster support from the Republicans.

The GOP alternative to ObamaCare flamed out and a blame game erupted with conservatives and moderates pointing fingers at each other.

President Trump tactfully avoided direct blame on GOP members but faulted Democrats for keeping the Obama law alive.

The failure in March was a show of the clout of House Freedom Caucus as a strong bloc of conservative Republicans. Their resistance forced Speaker Paul Ryan to pull out the bill before a vote.

In the new plan, MacArthur's amendment allows states to exercise discretion on two central provisions in the Obamacare. They are health benefits coverage such as maternity and preventive care. Second is restraining insurers from charging more premium from people with preexisting medical conditions.

Public Support For Old Provisions Deters Moderates

The dilemma with moderate Republicans is that the huge public support for Affordable Care Act provisions. Going against them will be a risk.

The change in the stand of White House was commented upon by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who called Trump as "making fools of the members of Congress of his own party" through the bid to revive the healthcare legislation.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) is sounding positive that the latest proposal will get the backing of moderates as no essential benefits are being chopped.

According to him, states are getting an option to demand a waiver and define their essential benefits. If the federal government does not accede to their demand within 60 days, the changes pitched by states can take effect. "We're going to go when we have the votes," Ryan asserted.

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