It’s hard to keep up with all the health care legislation news lately. That’s why we’re providing regular summaries of the latest news, reflecting the current state of health care in the United States or how it may be changing in the not-too-distant future. Here’s a recap of some of the latest and greatest stories:
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) pulled the American Health Care Act (AHCA) on Friday, March 24. This action effectively ends House Leadership’s push to enact the latest iteration of a Bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Originally slated for a floor vote on Thursday, March 23, Speaker Ryan initially delayed a vote on the AHCA for one day to allow for further negotiations between House Leadership, the White House, and the Freedom Caucus. During that negotiation, concessions were made and the Bill was amended to remove federal requirements for basic benefits such as maternity care, emergency services, mental health and wellness visits.
Reports say that the White House told the Freedom Caucus that negotiations were over and gave them an ultimatum – vote for the AHCA or leave the ACA in place.
Despite the last-minute amendments, the House Freedom Caucus remained largely united in opposition to the AHCA. These defections, along with the dissent amongst Moderate Republicans, meant that the AHCA lacked the broad support necessary to pass the bill along party lines.
While moderate Republicans were concerned with dismantling the Medicaid expansion and the potential that millions of their voters would lose insurance coverage, the Freedom Caucus was concerned that there was still too much government involvement and that the bill was still too expensive.
Speaker Ryan, facing defections from both Conservatives and Moderates, realized Friday that he lacked the votes to pass the bill, and that further negotiation would not result in passage.
Following a meeting with President Trump on Friday afternoon, Speaker Ryan announced withdrawal of the AHCA and told reporters that “Obamacare (ACA) is the law of the land” and that “we’re going to be living with Obamacare (ACA) for the foreseeable future.”
Congress, White House Signal that Work Continues on Repeal and Replace of the Affordable Care Act
Despite the ultimatum issued on Thursday, and a tweet from President Trump indicating that the next attempt at health care reform would come only after Obamacare (ACA) “explodes,” White House officials indicated that they were committed to health care reform.
Vice President Mike Pence stated that President Trump “won’t rest until we repeal and replace ObamaCare (ACA)” and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said that “everything’s on the table” and that the White House would give Congress another chance on health care.
It is unlikely, though, that this continued effort will take precedence over other White House priorities such as the budget, tax reform, and the border wall.
Senate Conservatives including Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) indicated that they would propose and introduce more conservative health care legislation that they believe would garner wider Republican support and allow a bill repealing the ACA to pass along party lines. Meanwhile Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Bob Corker (R-TN) indicated a desire to work with Democrats to draft bi-partisan legislation.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) echoed this sentiment saying that Democrats are willing to work with Republicans to fix, but not repeal the ACA.
In the House, Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC), leader of the House Freedom Caucus, indicated that he would work with Moderate Republicans to draft legislation that would garner broad Republican support by building consensus.
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), on the other hand, indicated that Moderate Republicans sought to work with Democrats to build “durable and sustainable health care reform” and not to try to “jam this thing through, muscle it through on a partisan basis.”