On Wednesday, Republican leaders in the U.S. House said that they “think” they secured enough votes to repeal Obama’s signature healthcare overhaul, and replace it with a version of their own.
However, experts expect the House vote to be a nail-biter as last-minute defections are likely to occur. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was the first to announce the GOP has the votes to pass the Obamacare replacement by the end of the week.
I think we have enough votes. It’s a good bill. As you know, we already debated a large portion of this. We’re going to pass it,
the Republican said about the replacement.
House Vote Scheduled for Thursday
The final version of the bill has yet to be made public, and there are no independent analyses of the costs the bill’s enforcement may imply and the bill’s impact on healthcare. Nevertheless, the House was poised to get the approval from the Rules Committee yesterday evening and schedule a floor vote on Thursday.
Republicans probably now have enough votes because they agreed to provide an extra $8 billion in funding over the next five years to states to prop up high-risk insurance pools for people living with chronic diseases or other preexisting conditions.
Sources said that the votes of two prominent representatives were won over with the $8 billion compromise. Nonetheless, not everyone entirely agrees with the final version of the Republican health care overhaul. Democrats have opposed deep cuts to Medicaid and the removal of patient protections, which led to weeks-long negotiations.
Bill Has ‘Minuscule Chance’ in Senate
Even if the bill gets through the House, its passage prospects are slim in the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned the House GOP that the bill would not be shielded from a filibuster in the Senate. So, they shouldn’t expect a fast vote.
Schumer rhetorically asked other Senators why they would risk passing a law that can have devastating consequences on their constituents. He added that, nonetheless, the legislation has a “minuscule chance,” if no chance at all, to get through the Senate.
House Republicans dismissed Schumer’s objections. They believe the best thing to do now is to pass it and let the Senate “deal with it”. Rep. Joe Barton of Texas noted that if the GOP had “wet [their] pants” every time somebody mentioned the Byrd Rule, they would have never done anything significant in Congress.
The recent announcement comes after eight years of failed attempts to dismantle Obamacare, weeks of unsuccessful negotiations, multiple false starts and canceled votes, late-night gatherings, last-minute amendments, and surprise defections.
This is because even though the GOP now controls all levels of the U.S. government, there is a bitter division between the conservative wing of the party, or the Freedom Caucus, and its moderate wing, aka the Tuesday Group.
Hardliners at the Freedom Caucus made some final concessions after they were allowed to include a provision that would allow states to opt out from the federal protections granted to patients with preexisting conditions.
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