Following a crushing defeat in the House of Representatives in March, President Donald Trump has been actively courting GOP lawmakers in a renewed push to pass a revised version of the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) through the House on Thursday, May 4.
In what seems to be an attempt to score a much desired legislative victory for President Trump, Republican officials were scurrying to schedule a vote on the House floor for midday Thursday. House Speaker Paul Ryan met with Republican officials on Wednesday night to discuss a strategy to ensure the healthcare bill does pass this time.
The Washington Post reported that Republican representatives were open to committing to a vote only if a victory was guaranteed. While making an exit from the meeting, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader, expressed confidence that the American Healthcare Act would pass.
“We will be voting on the health care act tomorrow. Do we have the votes? Yes. Will we pass it? Yes. We’re gonna pass it. Let’s be optimistic about life!”
According to CNN, the “eleventh-hour deal” was the result of intense lobbying efforts by lawmakers, Donald Trump and Mike Pence. The vice president reportedly spent most of Wednesday on Capitol Hill, which was buzzing with activity as a constant stream of traffic flowed into and from the speaker’s office.
Center-leaning Republicans played a significant role in the failure of Trump’s earlier attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. Among the concerns lawmakers had was the legislation on pre-existing conditions which would’ve left many of their constituents without coverage under the American Healthcare Act.
If the American Healthcare Act were to pass in its current form, states could independently impose waivers that would enable insurance companies to discriminate unfairly against anyone with a pre-existing condition. Patients who would be affected by this waiver could potentially pay much higher premiums.
One of Obamacare’s most popular features was the mandatory protections of those with pre-existing conditions from possible exclusion from health insurance benefits.
Adding his voice to the concern, late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel was overwhelmed with emotion as he told millions of viewers a story about his newborn son’s heart condition. Kimmel hoped to sway President Trump and Republican lawmakers into preserving the Obamacare provision for pre-existing conditions.
President Trump spent much of Wednesday attempting to woo reluctant party members into a compromise that would set aside an additional $8 billion that would be used to assist states who opted to continue managing patients with pre-existing conditions in their state-run system of high-risk pools.
Critics of this compromise believe the additional funds would not be able to cover the shortfalls adequately, and many such patients would still be weighed down by very high premiums. Speaking on behalf of the health reform advocacy group, the Kaiser Family Foundation, Karen Pollitz said that $8 billion would not cover more than a few hundred thousand Americans. Pollitz estimated that between 5 million and 10 million patients with pre-existing conditions rely on health insurance.
Nevertheless, the measure seemed to do enough to allay the fears of most skeptics who ultimately committed to a vote for the bill. Even the Freedom Caucus, a Republican faction that was partly responsible for Trump’s earlier embarrassment, seemed more willing to support the bill if the compromises are included.
Trump is facing fierce opposition from medical consortiums who reiterated their concern that millions of Americans would be inundated with debilitating costs, or worse, lose coverage altogether. The American Medical Association was quick to remind Trump that one of Obamacare’s key successes was the fact that millions more Americans were able to receive coverage under Barack Obama’s signature policy achievement.
Further opposition came from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), who was part of the lobby to prevent the new healthcare legislation from passing earlier this year. The senior citizens’ advocacy group took to Twitter to urge members to call their representatives and place pressure on them to vote against the revised healthcare bill.
According to a statement released by the AARP, the revised healthcare bill is “even worse” than Trump’s previous attempt. The group also threatened to contact all 38 million of their members to inform them how their particular representative voted.
“This harmful legislation still puts an Age Tax on older Americans and puts vulnerable populations at risk through a series of backdoor deals that attempts to shift responsibility to states.”
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, speaking on behalf of the Democrats, remained resolute in opposition to the bill, saying it would have a severely negative impact on patients’ ability to maintain insurance coverage.
“This is deadly. No Band-Aid will fix it.”
If a small majority in the House succeeds in approving the bill, the new healthcare legislation will still face significant hurdles in the Senate. For Democrats, a defeat in the Senate would be there next best opportunity to strike down Trumpcare.
[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]