It appeared at one point that President Trump was optimistic about getting his healthcare bill through the House of Representatives, thanks to some tough negotiations between the two disparate factions of the Republican Party: The conservative Freedom Caucus and the moderate Tuesday Group. The two factions could not reach an agreement on an earlier version of the American Health Care Act, but a rewritten bill – supported by Rep. Mark Meadows of the Caucus and Rep. Tom MacArthur of the Tuesday Group – made changes that could bring the two sides together.
However, even the leaders of these respective groups are on board with the revised legislation, the Associated Press reports that they may still be shy of the votes needed to pass the bill on to the Senate:
Some lawmakers and GOP aides suggested leaders were less than 10 away from the 216 votes Republicans will need to prevail. Others were more cautious, and there was little overt indication of new support from the party’s moderates.
Many of them oppose the legislation, citing its cuts in Medicaid, its less generous federal subsidies for people buying insurance and estimates that 24 million people would lose coverage.
“I still think there’s a lot of work to be done” before a vote can be held, said Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, a member of the House GOP leadership.
One sticking point for moderate Republicans is a feature in the bill that, while still mandating that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions, would allow those companies to charge ill customers much higher premiums. Critics say this could easily make coverage unaffordable for those who have such conditions, making the mandate essentially worthless.
Donald Trump was attacked by his Republican challengers in the primaries for coming back, again and again, to his plan to erase “the lines around the states,” but it may be time to get back to that basic concept. Expanding the competitive marketplace nationally could solve a lot of the problems that Republicans seem unable to address in a coherent bill. It would take the pressure off insurance companies when it comes to covering pre-existing conditions, ramp up the level of competition, and give the American people much, much more choice when it comes to securing coverage.
What Republicans don’t seem to really understand is that the current Obamacare situation is untenable. It can’t go on. Insurance companies are pulling out of the marketplace left and right. Soon, there will be many areas in the U.S. where Americans will have – at best – only one insurance option. In some areas, they won’t even have that. Obamacare is failing right before our eyes. At this point, doing ANYTHING would be preferable to doing nothing.