House narrowly passes Republican healthcare bill, sends 'Trumpcare' to Senate
The House voted 217 to 213 Thursday to pass the American Health Care Act to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
An estimated 20 Republicans voted with Democrats against passage. Republicans needed 216 votes to pass the bill.
The American Health Care Act now moves to the Senate, where it is expected to face an uphill battle for passage though Republicans hold a majority in both Houses of Congress.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price called the vote a victory for the American people.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in an emailed statement called the vote a victory for the American people.
"The status quo is failing the American people," Price said. "Premiums are skyrocketing; choices are narrowing or vanishing; and patients do not have access to the care they need. Today, the House of Representatives has begun to deliver on President Trump's promise to repeal a broken law and replace it with solutions that put patients in charge."
The bill passed six weeks after House Speaker Paul Ryan introduced it. Ryan's version was pulled before a vote in late March when it became clear the bill didn't have enough support for passage.
The current bill added an amendment of $8 billion to a $130 billion risk pool for states that opt out by waiver to the provisions for essential benefits and coverage of pre-existing conditions. The federal government would fund the risk pools to help consumers with pre-existing conditions afford premiums, but Democrats and provider groups have said coverage would remain unaffordable for many.
"There is a fundamental and urgent choice at the heart of this debate," House Speaker Paul Ryan said before the vote.
That is to continue with status quo under Obamacare in which consumers face higher premiums, fewer choices, and having more insurance companies pulling out of the Affordable Care Act market.
"We can continue with the status quo or put this collapsing law behind us." Ryan said.
The bill also makes insurance companies come in to compete for your business, Ryan said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the vote was being taken before the Congressional Budget Office had time to score the bill giving information as to its cost and its effect on consumers.
"Republicans are maliciously again trying to destroy healthcare," Pelosi said.
However the bill would provide a great civics lesson as voters will find out that their Congressperson voted to take away their healthcare, she said.
The bill, she said, guts pre-existing conditions and essential benefits and those between ages 60 and 64 pay a premium five times more than younger consumers.
The total spending bill gives a $600 billion tax cut to the richest people in the country, she said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has reportedly said the bill would not survive the Senate.
For one thing, Schumer said, it may not qualify for passage because it isn’t primarily focused on addressing the deficit, according to The Hill.
Margaret A. Murray, CEO of the Association for Community Affiliated Plans said the American Health Care Act would cause considerable damage to the healthcare system.
“This bill cuts Medicaid by four-fifths of a trillion dollars and phases out the enhanced federal funding match for the Medicaid expansion,” Murray said. “It will severely limit access to services for the more than 70 million people who rely on Medicaid for effective health coverage – and locks states’ funding to what they spent on Medicaid in 2016.”