In a legislative win for President Donald Trump, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a bill today that would repeal major parts of Obamacare and replace it with the Republican’s plan, the American Health Care Act. After a 217-213 vote that was split down party lines, the bill moves to the Senate for consideration.
It was a nail-biting finish for Republicans, who got just enough support to get the legislation through the House. The bill’s passage represents the first cleared hurdle to accomplish a Trump campaign pledge and 7-year Republican effort to repeal and replace former-President Barack Obama’s sweeping healthcare reform.
The bill is expected to face problems in the Senate, where Republicans have a 52-seat majority and even a few defections in the party could block the bill.
The Republican’s bill is designed to repeal most Obamacare taxes, such as a penalty for not purchasing health insurance. It would cut funding for Medicaid and roll back Medicaid expansion. Earlier this year, the bill was withdrawn from the House due to a shortage of votes.
Nearly 20 million Americans gained healthcare coverage under Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Republicans say the program is an example of government overreach and that it drives up premiums for the average American. But the ACA has garnered support in recent public opinion polls, according to Reuters, and Democrats hope that today’s vote will impact next year’s midterm congressional elections.
After Republicans gathered enough votes to pass the bill today, Democrats in the House reportedly began singing “Na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye,” – referencing their belief that Republicans will lose in midterm elections thanks to their vote.
Despite a Republican majority in both the House and the Senate, the new Republican administration has discovered that it is politically tricky to repeal and replace Obamacare. One of the most hotly-debated issues in the bill was the treatment of people with pre-existing conditions.
The ACA stopped insurers from charging people with pre-existing conditions higher rates and mandated coverage for 10 essential health benefits. The ‘Trumpcare’ bill would allow states to opt out of those provisions. Insurers wouldn’t be allowed to deny people insurance because of pre-existing conditions, but there is no cap on what they could charge them.
Republican lawmakers that were wary of the bill got on board after embracing a compromise amendment to add an $8 billion fund to help cover the cost for people with pre-existing conditions over 5 years.
Major medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association, were strongly opposed to the Trumpcare bill.
The House voted for the bill before it was scored by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, in a rush to push the bill through before members leave on Friday for a week in their home districts.
Before the bill passed, the President said he planned to hold a victory celebration in the White House Rose Garden if his healthcare legislation was approved.
“Insurance companies are fleeing ObamaCare – it is dead. Our healthcare plan will lower premiums & deductibles – and be great healthcare!,” he tweeted.
Material from Reuters was used in this report.