House Republicans pass replacement to Obamacare, sending to Senate for likely changes

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

House Republicans pass replacement to Obamacare, sending to Senate for likely changes

By Kate Irby

It took more than a month of wrangling and one failed bill, but House Republicans managed to pass their replacement to Obamacare the second time around.

The House voted on slim margins Thursday to pass their health care bill, but it will face even tougher odds in the Senate.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told the Washington Examiner that the bill would have a hard time passing the Senate in its current form. Any changes to the bill in the Senate would have to be approved by another vote in the House.

“There are undoubtedly going to be some changes,” Hatch said.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., introduced an amendment to the bill Wednesday that smoothed its passage. The amendment provided $8 billion over five years to help those with preexisting conditions pay for medical costs. But states can still opt-out of making insurers charge those with preexisting conditions the same amount as those without, as well as requiring insurers to offer “essential health benefits.”

The bill also repeals the individual mandate, the employer mandate and certain taxes.

The replacement would keep dependent coverage until age 26 and will continue to bar insurers from placing lifetime limits on what they will pay to cover someone’s medical expenses.

House leadership chose to hold the vote before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office gave its estimates on the bill’s effects. CBO estimates on the first version of the replacement – namely, that 24 million fewer people would have insurance under the Republicasn version – stirred up opposition to the bill.

More than 22 Republican votes against the replacement – along with all Democrats – would have meant failure. A Washington Post analysis updated hours before the vote listed 17 Republicans opposed or “leaning no,” with another 32 undecided. But the House Freedom Caucus, who helped deliver the killing blow to the original replacement bill, supported the latest version. The previous bill was pulled from a vote at the last minute, as Republican leadership realized they didn’t have the votes to pass it.