GOP Health Plan Advances in House With Critics on Left and Right

Reform efforts “will end in a beautiful picture,” Trump tweets

Republicans have advanced legislation through two key House committees as part of their goal to dismantle the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

On party-line votes, the committees on Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means approved measures repealing major parts of the 2010 health care act, with the goal of holding a floor vote later this month.

Disgruntled conservatives, however, have fired warning shots at Republican leaders. For example, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) predicted on Twitter that the current House bill wouldn’t pass the Senate.

“To my friends in [the] House: pause, start over. Get it right, don’t get it fast,” Cotton tweeted. “What matters in [the] long run is better, more affordable health care for Americans, NOT House leaders’ arbitrary legislative calendar.”

Democrats have also railed against the House proposal, saying it would hurt people’s ability to maintain and afford health insurance.

In reply, President Trump tweeted from the White House: “Despite what you hear in the press, healthcare is coming along great. We are talking to many groups and it will end in a beautiful picture!”

Among the bill’s biggest changes is to begin reducing funding for Medicaid after the end of 2019, reversing expansion under the PPACA. Beginning in January 2020, the federal government would transition to a system in which a set amount of Medicaid funding would be sent to states each year.

Conservatives generally distrust GOP leaders’ three-part strategy for repealing and replacing the PPACA, according to the Journal.

First, the leaders plan to pass the current bill repealing most parts of the act and offering some Republican-backed elements in their place. Since the bill generally focuses on budget-related matters, it would require only 51 votes to pass the Senate under congressional rules.

The second phase would have Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price use his administrative power to undo other PPACA provisions.

The third step would be the hardest—persuading enough Democrats to go along with a set of nonbudgetary health-care bills that would require 60 votes to pass the Senate.

Source: Wall Street Journal; March 9, 2017.