Conservative opposition delays health care vote

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Health Spicer

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Last minute push by Trump fails to sway Jordan, others in Freedom Caucus.

Despite a full-court press from President Donald Trump and heavy pressure from GOP leadership, a conservative group of House Republicans Thursday effectively delayed a vote aimed at overhauling the nation’s health care system.

In response, Trump threw down the gauntlet in what one Republican called a game of “high stakes poker”: Vote Friday or he’d leave Obamacare in place.

Trump’s Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney, announced the president’s ultimatum in a closed-door meeting of House Republicans.As of late Thursday, House leadership had committed to a vote, but had not formally scheduled it.

Earlier Thursday the Freedom Caucus — a group founded by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana and also including Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy — rejected the GOP bill, possibly putting into jeopardy Republicans’ longstanding promise to scrap the 2010 health care law known as Obamacare.

Republicans had needed the caucus – a group of nearly 40 conservative lawmakers – in order to garner the 216 votes needed to approve the health care bill. In recent days, the group has been courted heavily, visiting the White House repeatedly as Trump worked to win their votes.

But a final trip to the White House Thursday morning proved fruitless, with members saying afterward they had not been swayed.

From Jamie Dupree: Republicans struggle to push health care bill over House finish line

The group quickly huddled for hours in a Capitol Hill hearing room to plan their next steps while dozens of reporters mobbed the halls outside.

At 3:30 p.m., GOP leadership made it formal: They would delay the vote, with no word early on as to when it would be rescheduled. Shortly after, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina — the chair of the Freedom Caucus — left the meeting with Jordan.

Meadows said the meeting with Trump had “moved this a very long way” in getting members closer to accepting the bill and he is hopeful of further progress.

“I can tell you we’re hopeful … with some of the things that the White House has shared with us,” Meadows said.

RELATED: Obama health law's 'essential benefits' may be in jeopardy

A Davidson spokesman said, “In the current state of the bill, he’s a no, but the negotiations have been productive so far and he’s optimistic and hopefully we can get to the point where all Republican members as a conference can vote yes on something.

“He’s just glad to be part of the process,” Davidson spokesman Alexei Woltornist said.

The Ryan bill is the culmination of a seven-year effort by congressional Republicans to repeal the 2010 health law, which they say contained too many mandates, taxes and penalties and did nothing to control premium costs in the individual market.

The 2010 law required private insurers to provide a minimum package of benefits that includes ambulance services, hospitalization, maternity, newborn care, and mental health and substance abuse programs.

RELATED: Republican health bill would widen America's big wealth gap

Conservatives have opposed the mandates, arguing that such benefits drive up the cost of insurance.

Darin Miller, a Jordan spokesman, said the congressman “wants to change the minimum benefits requirement so people can shop for plans that cover what they need, but not superfluous things they don’t need. This will drive down costs, which is Rep. Jordan’s primary focus.”

The vast majority of Americans already are covered with insurance, either private or through the government. About 156 million Americans receive health insurance through their employers while 55 million seniors are on Medicare and 74 million low-income people are on Medicaid, the joint-federal state program established in 1965.

The 2010 law also expanded Medicaid to allow a family of four earning as much as $33,948 a year to be eligible. Families of four earning between $34,000 and $98,400 a year could receive federal subsidies to buy individual insurance policies through the federal or state marketplaces, known as exchanges.

The House GOP bill would kill the federal subsidies and mandates requiring people to buy insurance and offer a refundable tax credit ranging from $2,000 to $4,000 to allow people to buy individual policies throughthe exchanges.

In addition, the GOP bill would scale back a feature of Obamacare that allowed Gov. John Kasich to use hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicaid to provide health coverage to more than 700,000 low-income people in Ohio.

The Republicans scheduled their vote as national polls make clear voters oppose their health care alternative. A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday shows that 56 percent of American voters disapprove of the House Republican bill and only 17 percent support it.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday night that because the bill scraps more than a dozen tax increases used to finance the bill and accelerates the tax cuts to the beginning of this year, it would reduce deficits by $150 billion during the next decade, a change from the $337 billion savings projected in the earlier bill.


COVERAGE TODAY

Online: Get the latest news on the health care debate today at DaytonDailyNews.com. Also, follow our political team on Twitter at @Ohio_Politics.

Radio: AM1290 and News 95.7 WHIO will have the latest on the debate throughout the day today.