House Will Take Crucial Obamacare Overhaul Vote Today

WASHINGTON -- After months of planning and weeks of wrangling with wary lawmakers, the House is set to vote today on legislation to overhaul the Affordable Care Act and redefine health care in America.If the House approves the measure, it will go the Senate for another round of negotiations before returning to the chamber for a final vote on a compromise bill.The vote on the American Health Care Act will be the latest test of President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan’s power -- not to mention the GOP’s ability to self-govern.After a humiliating setback in March, when Ryan pulled the legislation over lack of support, Republicans are feeling intense pressure from the White House to pass the bill and give the party a much needed win. But they’re facing beaucoup criticism from Democrats -- not to mention countless patient advocacy and health nonprofits -- who decry what they say is a rushed and chaotic process resulting in a bill that could lead to millions of Americans becoming uninsured. GOP members have long promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which they say has saddled all too many Americans with untenable health care premiums and stifled small business growth with overly burdensome regulations.But GOP leaders have so far struggled to coalesce support behind a replacement. As a result of conflict and competing goals between conservative and moderate members, the American Health Care Act has gone through a dizzying number of iterations in recent weeks.The bill hasn’t been scored since March, when the Congressional Budget Office estimated that as many as 24 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026 under the plan.The measure also proposes slashing $880 billion from Medicaid, would levy an “age tax” on older Americans by increasing the cap on what insurers can charge them, and would give Americans an age-based tax credit to help them pay for the costs. Studies have indicated those subsidies will be far lower than what the working poor and elderly who aren’t on Medicare currently receive under Obamacare.Critics say the latest flurry of amendments, which allow states to opt out of key Obamacare regulations that prohibit insurers from charging people with pre-existing conditions more than the healthy, will lead to even more Americans dropping insurance than originally projected. The GOP has set aside billions to help states set up high risk pools to defray what the chronically ill will pay in increased health care premiums, but health experts from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Avalere Health are already warning the funds are inadequate for the projected need.Democrats are expected to uniformly reject the measure. The GOP can afford to lose just 22 Republican votes. House leaders pulled the legislation due to lack of support in late March, but say they now have the needed support. Nearly all Texas Republicans are expected to vote for the measure, but all eyes will be on San Antonio Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican in a key swing district who has so far refused to say whether he’ll support the bill.  Continue reading...

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