WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) — The House of Representatives passed the latest Republican-revised health care bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.
GOP lawmakers finally had the votes they needed to pass the American Health Care Act.
The deal will provide an additional $8 billion to help people with pre-existing conditions pay for health insurance.
Republicans headed to the White House to celebrate the victory with President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden. Republican lawmakers even had a “case of beer standing by” to celebrate at the Capitol.
During the Rose Garden celebration, Trump said the Republican lawmakers standing behind him were an “amazing group of people” who “worked so hard” on passing the bill.
“This has brought the Republican Party together. We’re going to get this finished,” Trump said.
Trump added, “I feel so confident” the Senate will pass the bill.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said at the White House that Obamacare is “spiraling out of control.”
“This law has failed and is collapsing,” said Ryan.
Beaten but unbowed, Democrats insisted Republicans will pay at election time for repealing major provisions of the law. They sang the pop song “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” to the GOP lawmakers as the end of the voting neared.
A fierce debate over health care took place on the House floor as Republican lawmakers rallied support behind the new health care plan.
House leaders called for a vote after winning over some last-minute holdouts.
“We have enough votes,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California. “It will pass.”
The measure skirted through the House by a thin 217-213 vote, as all voting Democrats and a group of mostly moderate Republican holdouts voted no. A defeat would have been politically devastating for Trump and Ryan.
The bill would reduce subsidies for low-income Americans and eliminate taxes on the wealthy. There is also an age-based incentive with this new measure hoping to encourage young people to buy insurance by offering a tax credit for those making less than $75,000 a year.
While GOP lawmakers believe they’ve sweetened the deal, some Democratic Pennsylvania lawmakers aren’t buying it. Rep. Dwight Evans says his vote was an unequivocal no.
“I’m voting no,” said Evans.
“This is a fraud this bill and we’re gonna fight it with all we have,” said Sen. Bob Casey.
A major sticking point surrounds the pre-existing conditions clause in the current plan. Under the new deal, states can choose to allow insurers to charge higher rates for people with pre-existing conditions, but only if the states set up high-risk pools to help with the costs.
“They say, ‘Oh no, it’s still in there, but the insurance company can charge you whatever you want. Oh you have cancer? That will be $100,000 a year for your policy,’” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon.
This is a tremendous reversal of momentum for a measure that was twice pulled back from a vote for lack of support.
Ryan canceled a March vote on the health care bill because disgruntled conservatives said the measure was too meek while GOP moderates said its cuts were too deep.
He abandoned a second attempt for a vote last week. As late as Tuesday The Associated Press counted 21 GOP opponents — one short of the number that would kill the measure if all Democrats voted no.
Over the past few weeks, the measure was revamped to attract most hard-line conservatives and some GOP centrists. In a final tweak, leaders added a modest pool of money to help people with pre-existing medical conditions afford coverage, a concern that caused a near-fatal rebellion among Republicans in recent days.
GOP candidates including Trump have made repealing Obama’s statute an epitome of their campaign pledges, claiming it’s a failing system that’s leaving people with rising health care costs and less access to care.
Republicans will “gut Obamacare and rescue the American people,” said Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.
Democrats defended Obama’s law, one of his crowning domestic achievements, for expanding coverage to 20 million Americans and forcing insurers to offer more generous benefits. They said the GOP measure would toss millions off coverage while delivering tax cuts to the wealthy.
“How can you do this to the American people, how can you do this to the people you represent?” asked Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in March that the GOP bill would end coverage for 24 million people over a decade. That office also said the bill’s subsidies would be less generous for many, especially lower-earning and older people not yet 65 and qualifying for Medicare.
A CBO estimate for the cost of latest version of their bill will not be ready before the House conducts its vote.
Earlier this week, moderates objected that constituents with pre-existing conditions could effectively be denied coverage by insurers charging them exorbitant premiums.
But GOP leaders seemed to win over a raft of wavering lawmakers after adding $8 billion over five years for state high-risk pools, aimed at helping seriously ill people pay expensive premiums. That was on top of $130 billion already in the bill for states to help customers, though critics said those amounts were insufficient.
The House overwhelmingly approved a second bill that Republicans wrote to snuff out a glaring political liability. The measure would delete language in the health care measure entitling members of Congress and their staffs to Obama’s coverage requirements, even if their home states annul them.
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