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House Republicans, Short of Votes, Withdraw the American Health Care Act

March 24, 2017
by Heather Landi
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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) called off a scheduled vote in the House of Representatives Friday on Republicans’ embattled healthcare bill, the American Health Care Act (ACHA), as a growing number of Republicans opposed the bill, Ryan announced during a press conference at 4 pm Friday.

Republican leadership could not get the 216 votes needed for the bill to pass the House and move on to the Senate. The ACHA was the GOP’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which former President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010. Repealing and replacing the ACA was a core campaign promise by many Republicans in Congress as well as President Donald Trump.

During the press conference Friday afternoon, Ryan acknowledged that it was a “disappointing day,” as GOP leaders were not able to get consensus to push their legislation through.

“Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains, and we’re feeling that growing pains today. We came really close today, but we came up short. I spoke to the President just a little while ago and I told him that the best thing I think to do is pull this bill and he agreed with the decision, Ryan said. “I will not sugar coat this, this is a disappointing day for us.”

He also acknowledged that the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as its often referred to, is "the law of the land." He added, "It'll remain law of the land until it is replaced. We're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future."

Ryan mentioned several times the challenges that the Republican party faced as the majority party. “We were a 10-year opposition party and being against things is easy to do. In a three-months-time, we trying to go to a governing party and to get 216 people to agree with each other on how to do things,” he said.

Moving forward, Ryan said GOP leadership will need “time to reflect on how we got to this moment,” and “what we could have done better.”

“Ultimately, this all kind of comes down to a choice. Are all of us willing to say yes to the good, to the very good, even if it’s not the perfect? If we’re willing to do that, we still have such an incredible opportunity in front of us. There remains so much that we can do to help improve people’s lives,” he said.

He also said during the press conference, “We’ve got to do better and we will. This is a setback, no two ways about it. But it is not the end of the story.”

According to reporting from The Hill, the bill came under fire from conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus, who demanded a number of changes that were intended to lower premium costs. Trump and GOP leaders agreed to some of those changes, but that appeared to cost them the support of more moderate Republicans.

A reporter asked Ryan about Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the GOP’s healthcare reform proposals, which would have been introduced after the passage of the AHCA. Ryan’s response signaled that the Trump administration will try to take regulatory steps to move forward with healthcare reform efforts.

“This bill would have made phase 2 much better, nevertheless, I think there are some things that the Secretary of HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] can do to try to stabilize things,” Ryan said. “We needed to this bill to make it better. For instance, risk pools, we believe the smarter way to help people with pre-existing conditions to get affordable coverage while bringing down the healthcare costs for everybody else, is through re-insurance risk or risk sharing pools, which this bill would supply for the states. And, that’s not going to happen, and he [HHS Secretary Tom Price] won’t be able to deploy that policy tool that we think is better than Obamacare. So we lose some tools that we wanted.”

Ryan also said that Republican leadership would move forward with the rest of its agenda, mentioning in particular border security, rebuilding the military and tax reform.

 

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