House Republican leaders have set a Thursday vote on a bill that would repeal and replace ObamaCare, they announced Wednesday.
The vote announcement indicates that the GOP has enough votes to pass the so-called American Health Care Act (AHCA) and send the measure to the Senate for consideration. Republican leaders had spent several days scrambling to round up the votes.
“We’re gonna pass it,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told Fox News, adding that the bill had the support of the required 216 members to pass out of the chamber.
The bill’s passage would mark the culmination of seven years’ worth of promises by Republicans to undo Obama’s signature legislative achievement and and provide a long-sought win for President Donald Trump, who has been in office more than 100 days without a significant congressional victory save Senate confirmation of a Supreme Court justice.
The latest iteration of the GOP bill would let states escape a current requirement that insurers charge healthy and seriously ill customers the same rates, a measure that has drawn the ire of some moderate Republicans.
However, a pair of moderates flipped their position earlier Wednesday and announced they were supporting the legislation after winning Trump’s backing for their amendment to the measure.
The proposal by Reps. Fred Upton, R-Mich. and and Billy Long, R-Mo., would provide $8 billion over five years to help some people with pre-existing medical conditions afford coverage. Upton said their plan would put “downward pressure” on premium costs.
Upton’s conversion was especially significant because he’s a respected, centrist voice on health issues and former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Upton and Long were among four House members who met with Trump at the White House. Also attending the White House meeting were the current Energy and Commerce chairman, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, who heads a health subcommittee.
“Today we’re here announcing that with this addition that we brought to the president, and sold him on in over an hour meeting in here with him, that we’re both yesses on the bill,” Long told reporters at the White House.
“‘We need you, we need you, we need you,”‘ Long described as the message from Trump.
Democrats remained solidly opposed to the legislation. The American Medical Association, AARP and other consumer and medical groups are also opposed. The AMA issued a statement saying Upton’s changes “tinker at the edges without remedying the fundamental failing of the bill – that millions of Americans will lose their health insurance as a direct result.”
Late Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., slammed Republicans’ decision to proceed with a vote before the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had scored the bill for expected drops in the number of insured Americans.
“Forcing a vote without a CBO score shows that Republicans are terrified of the public learning the full consequences of their plan to push Americans with pre-existing conditions into the cold,” Pelosi said. “But tomorrow, House Republicans are going to tattoo this moral monstrosity to their foreheads, and the American people will hold them accountable.”
The overall bill would cut Medicaid, repeal tax boosts on higher-earning people, eliminate Obama’s fines on people who don’t buy insurance and give many of them smaller federal subsidies.
Before the White House meeting, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., praised the proposal and said the GOP was getting “extremely close” to finally being able to pass the stalled legislation.
The proposal “is something that nobody has a problem with, and it’s actually helping” round up support for the bill, Ryan said on radio’s “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”
The existing health care measure would let states get federal waivers allowing insurers to charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing illnesses who’d let their coverage lapse. To get the waiver, the state must have a high-risk pool or another mechanism to help such people afford a policy.
Opponents said that would effectively deny such people coverage by letting insurers charge them unaffordable prices. They say high-risk pools have a mixed record because government money financing them often proves inadequate.
The money in Upton’s plan would help people with pre-existing illnesses pay premiums in states where insurers can charge them more.
There’s already around $130 billion in the legislation states could use to help people afford insurance, but critics have said that’s just a fraction of what would be needed for adequate coverage.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and the Associated Press contributed to this report.