AHCA Vote Postponed

Ryan Black

House Republicans have yet to secure unanimous approval within own party.

The vote on the American Health Care Act, the House GOP’s proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act, has been postponed.

House Speaker Paul Ryan was scheduled to hold a press conference at 11:30 this morning to discuss the status of the vote, which had been expected to come today. Not long before that time, that press conference was postponed until 3:30 in the afternoon. Not long after that, the press conference was scrapped, and reports began to emerge that voting on the AHCA would be too.

 

The Republicans apparently have not yet garnered the necessary support within their own party to pass the bill. If the vote does not occur tomorrow it could be postponed further to next week.

 

"Debate will commence tonight as planned and the vote will be in the morning to avoid voting at 3 a.m.," White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, continuing that the vote should be done “in the light of day, not in the wee hours of the night.”

 

The 237 House Republicans have been summoned to a meeting set for 7PM this evening. While unanimous rejection from House Democrats was expected, the bill’s fate hinges on just how many Republicans are willing to warm to Speaker Ryan and President Trump’s overtures. Tensions exist within the party regarding the scope of the bill, with the AHCA’s consideration of essential health benefits proving divisive.

 

Those essential health benefits, including maternity care, mental health care, and ambulance costs, were required to be covered in the Affordable Care Act, and the first-introduced draft of the GOP alternative continued that requirement. The Freedom Caucus within the House GOP vehemently opposed such requirements.

 

Earlier this week, the Act was revised on seven points, mostly appealing to the most conservative elements of the Republican party, including the Freedom Caucus. Though the initial rollout of the bill received criticism from all sides, some of the strongest repudiations came from conservatives who thought the plan did not depart far enough from the Affordable Care Act. One change would give states the option of imposing work requirements for Medicaid access in the cases of working-age individuals with no young children, which would ask that potential recipients prove they are employed or seeking employment; another revision would phase out ACA-associated taxes, such as the one on tanning salons, by the end of this year rather than in 2018.

 

The revised bill was supposed to be brought to vote without being re-scored by the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO gave critics of the bill ammunition last week, allowing them to paint a grim image with the projection’s broadest strokes. Their analysis of the AHCA’s initial draft predicted Medicaid cuts in the hundreds of billions of dollars, coinciding with the potential of tens of millions of Americans losing insurance over the next decade.

The updated CBO score, released today, maintained its top line losses, but showed the bill in its newest form would have less of an impact on federal deficits. 

The vote had been scheduled for today to fall seven years to the day of Barack Obama’s signing of his signature health care bill.