GOP Health Insurance Plan Clears Latest Hurdle But Still Faces Challenges

The House Budget Committee passed the GOP’s health insurance reform act this morning with 3 Republicans on the panel voting no. Had one more Republican voted against the plan, it would have technically died.

The measure now moves on to the House Rules Committee which will establish a timeline for debate on the measure and which, if any, amendments will be allowed to be voted on by the entire House.

The plan to “repeal and replace” ObamaCare, a promise the GOP has been running on since the 2010 midterm elections, still sharply divides the party in both chambers of Congress.

Conservatives argue the plan doesn’t go far enough to repeal all of ObamaCare and leaves too many of the original legislation’s in place. They say they have the votes to kill the plan as currently written.

Meanwhile, the House GOP whip team took the temperature of their colleagues during Wednesday evening votes. Earlier in the day, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows predicted the whip count would reveal about 40 hard “no” votes on the current bill, with another 30 to 40 undecided.

“We’re confident tonight that there are not the votes to modify this current bill to make it acceptable to conservatives and moderates alike,” Meadows told reporters Wednesday night.

 

Some GOP moderates are unhappy with the bill for leaving so many uninsured.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), whose district was won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 says she’s a no vote for the plan as it is.

“The bill’s consequences for South Florida are clear: too many of my constituents will lose insurance and there will be less funds to help the poor and elderly with their healthcare.”

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has changed his stance on opening up the bill for changes as his members expressed concerns about the package.

“We’re getting feedback from various members about how we can improve the bill,” he said. “Now that we have the score, we know exactly what we’re dealing with.”

The statements punctuated the House speaker’s messaging evolution on the bill, which he previously said presented a “binary choice” and marked the “closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare.”

Whether he and the administration can find what he calls the “sweet spot” that pleases both conservatives and moderate members is yet to be seen.