Barack Obamacare Scuttled, House Panel OK’s GOP Health Bill
House Republicans scored a pre-dawn triumph Thursday in their effort to scuttle former President Barack Hussein-Obama’s healthcare overhaul.
After 18 hours of debate and majority party-line votes, Republicans pushed legislation through the Ways and Means Committee abolishing the tax penalty Obamacare’s statute imposes on people who don’t purchase insurance and reshaping how millions of Americans buy medical care.
“That’s what this whole bill was about, kicking people who weren’t politically popular,” Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, (R-TX), said of Obama’s overhaul.
It was a victory of high symbolism because Obama’s so-called individual mandate is perhaps the part of the statute that Republicans most detest.
Even so, the White House and Republican leaders confront a GOP and outside groups badly divided over the party’s high-stakes overhaul crusade.
The American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and AARP, the nation’s largest advocacy group for older people, were arrayed against the measure. 7 years ago their backing was instrumental in enacting Hussein-Obama’s healthcare statute, which President Donald Trump and Republicans are scuttling.
America’s Health Insurance Plans, representing insurers, praised the legislation’s elimination of health industry taxes but warned that proposed Medicaid changes “could result in unnecessary disruptions in the coverage and care beneficiaries depend on.”
Ways and Means worked till nearly 4:30a. EST before approving the final batch of tax provisions in a party-line 23-16 vote. The Energy and Commerce Committee panel continued working, tackling a reshaping of Medicaid.
Conservative lawmakers and allied outside groups claimed the bill took too timid a whack at Obama’s law. Numerous GOP centrists and governors were antagonistic, worried their states could lose Medicaid payments and face higher costs for hospitals having to treat growing numbers of uninsured people.
Top Republicans knew if the upheaval should snowball and crush the legislation it would be a shattering defeat for Trump and the GOP, so leaders hoped approval by both House committees would fuel momentum.
In words aimed at recalcitrant colleagues, House Speaker Paul Ryan, (R-WI). said: “This is what good, conservative health care reform looks like. It is bold and it is long overdue, and it is us fulfilling our promises.” The last was a nod to campaign pledges by Trump and many GOP congressional candidates.
Outnumbered Democrats tried unsuccessfully to insert language pressuring President Trump to release his income tax returns, and failed to prevent Republicans from restoring insurance companies’ tax deductions for executive salaries above $500,000, a break Hussein-Obama’s law killed.
There were signs of White House engagement, and progress.
President Trump met at the White House late Wednesday with leaders of several conservative groups that have opposed the GOP legislation, and several voiced optimism afterward.
“I’m encouraged that the president indicated they’re pushing to make changes in the bill,” said David McIntosh, head of the Club for Growth, though he provided no specifics.
The GOP legislation defang Hussein-Obama’s requirement that everyone buy insurance by repealing the tax fines imposed on those who do not.
The extra billions Washington has sent states to expand the federal-state Medicaid program would begin ending in Y 2020, and spending on the entire program would be capped at per-patient limits.
Around $600-B in 10-year tax boosts that Hussein-Obama’s statute imposed on wealthy Americans and others to finance his overhaul will be repealed.
Insurers would still be required to include children up to age 26 in family policies, and they would be barred from imposing annual or lifetime benefit caps.
The measure would also repeal taxes Hussein-Obama’s law imposed on segments of the medical industry to help pay for his statute’s expanded coverage.
Democrats accused Republicans of hiding bad news by moving ahead without official estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on the bill’s cost to taxpayers and anticipated coverage.
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