The health care bill created by House Republicans and touted by President Trump as the replacement for the Affordable Care Act will not be voted on as promised, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In a surprising turn of events, the vote, scheduled for between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. today, was abandoned. This devastating blow to the president’s agenda comes after a contentious debate on the House floor and weeks of negotiation. The new health care bill would have “repealed and replaced” Obamacare as President Trump had promised on the campaign trail. It is unclear what the fate of the new bill will be.
The Los Angeles Times reports that President Trump asked House Speaker Paul D. Ryan to pull the bill from the House floor at the last minute, as it became clear that they did not have enough votes to pass the measure. According to the New York Times, Ryan made a mad dash to the White House around 12 p.m. to inform the president that he had not secured the requisite number of votes to guarantee passage of the bill. The American Health Care Act needed the support of the vast majority of House Republicans in order to pass, but at least 22 were not willing to vote for the bill. The news became official at 3:30 p.m, when Ryan convened a closed-door meeting with House Republicans to inform them that the bill would not be voted on today. This is the second time a vote was delayed on the controversial American Health Care Act.
The passage of the health care bill was expected to be difficult as two ideologically opposed groups of House Republicans expressed reservations about the health care provisions in the American Health Care Act. According to the New York Times, the conservative House Freedom Caucus wanted the new law to cut federal health insurance mandates, while more moderate northeastern Republicans felt that the law was cutting too many benefits and not covering enough people. It was impossible to get enough votes for the health care bill because acquiescing to one group of House Republican dissenters meant further alienating the other group.
The New York Times reports that the American Health Care Act would have saved billions of dollars in the federal budget, but it could have caused 24 million Americans to lose their health care over a decade, as it replaces the Affordable Care Act’s mandate with a system of tax credits that can go towards the cost of health insurance. There were also concerns about the loss of important health benefits. Democratic Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts explains
“This back-room deal will kill the requirement for insurance companies to offer essential health benefits such as emergency services, maternity care, mental health care, substance addiction treatment, pediatric services, prescription drugs and many other basic essential services.”
The fate of American health care remains uncertain, as it is unclear whether Republicans will truly abandon their seven-year quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The New York Times reports that President Trump, in an effort to pressure House Republicans, indicted that today’s vote would be their only chance to repeal the law. Meanwhile, Democrats have indicated that they would be willing to work with Republicans to improve and build upon the Affordable Care Act.
After seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2017
Pundits on both sides of the aisle wondered if bringing the bill to a vote before guaranteeing that there would be enough votes to pass it was a good strategy. It seems that the president was relying upon party loyalty to win the day. However, individual principles about health care and government spending seem to have been the prevailing theme.
[Featured Image by Cliff Owen/AP Images]