Obamacare to stay or go? US Congress to vote on Health Care Bill on Thursday

May 4 will see the US Congress decide on whether the country repeals former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act or not as Republican leaders announced that the House will vote on the GOP’s legislation on Thursday.
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India TV News Desk Washington 04 May 2017, 04:23 PM IST

May 4 will see the US Congress decide on whether the country repeals former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act or not as Republican leaders announced that the House will vote on the GOP’s legislation on Thursday.

President Trump’s full day of wrangling votes and personal arm-twisting, assures the success, predicted House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Unlike the previous failed attempt, when Republican leaders were forced to pull the bill for lack of votes, confidence is visible on the part of GOP leaders. A successful outcome would be the culmination of seven years’ worth of promises by Republicans to undo Obama’s signature legislative achievement, but could also expose House Republicans to political blowback by endorsing a bill that boots millions off the insurance rolls.

Bill passing through the House is just a first step. It shall later be facing the Senate and existing substantial opposition already visible in the Upper Chamber. Hence, Bill converting into the Law, is doubtful.

Nonetheless, victory in the House would provide some vindication of the GOP’s ability to govern in Republican-controlled Washington and shall end the dry spell of significant congressional victory, for Trump.

The announcement came at the end of the day when House Republican leaders and Trump intensified their already fierce lobbying to save the long-promised legislation, accepting the changes, that brought two pivotal Republicans back on board.

Democrats stood firmly united against the health bill. But they applauded a separate $1 trillion-plus spending measure to keep the government running, which had passed the House, earlier.

After the addition of $8 billion over five years to help people with pre-existing conditions, Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan and Billy Long of Missouri after meeting Mr. Trump at the White House said that they could now support the bill.

“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 yeses on the bill,” Long told reporters.

“‘We need you, we need you, we need you,'” Long described as the message from Trump.

"The latest iteration of the GOP bill would let states escape a requirement under Obama’s law that insurers charge healthy and seriously ill customers the same rates. Overall, the legislation would cut the Medicaid program for the poor, eliminate Obama’s fines for people who don’t buy insurance and provide generally skimpier subsidies. 

The American Medical Association(AMA), AARP and other consumer and medical groups are 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.”

Even if the GOP secures a win in the House, the Senate is expected to change the bill, as it is expected to uninsured 14millions American next year, and 26million by 2026.

Separately, on the spending bill to keep the government running, Trump and GOP leaders hailed it as a victory, citing increases in money for the military.

Some Republicans were not on-message either about the $1.1 trillion spending bill, the bipartisan result of weeks of negotiations in which top Democrats like Pelosi successfully blocked Trump’s most controversial proposals, including a down payment on his oft-promised Mexico border wall, cuts to popular domestic programs, and new punishments for so-called sanctuary cities.

“From my point of view, we pretty well got our clock cleaned,” said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Democratic votes were needed to pass the measure even though Republicans control both the White House and Congress, which made Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer powerful participants in the talks. That resulted in bipartisan outcomes like $407 million to combat Western wildfires and a $2 billion increase for medical research at the National Institutes of Health.

Even after lot of complaints, Trump has promised to sign the 1,665-page measure to fund the government, which now heads to the Senate, which is expected to approve it.

When the health bill does come to a vote Thursday it will be without an updated analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office about its cost and impacts, a point Democrats complained about bitterly.

And even with Upton and Long in the “yes” column, GOP leaders spent the day hunting for votes among wary moderates. More than a dozen opponents — including Kentucky’s Tom Massie, New Jersey’s Chris Smith — said they were still ‘No’ despite the changes. 

GOP leaders can lose only 22 from their ranks and still pass the bill, a report in Associated Press found 19 opposing it.

 (With AP inputs)

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