Some U.S. House Republicans doubtful ahead of vote to begin Obamacare repeal

File Photo: A boy waits in line at a health insurance enrollment event in Cudahy, California
File Photo: A boy waits in line at a health insurance enrollment event in Cudahy, California March 27, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

January 13, 2017

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives moved toward a Friday vote to begin dismantling Obamacare despite anxiety among some Republicans they were rushing into a major step without knowing the budget consequences or having a firm idea of how they would replace the healthcare law.

The Republican-led Congress, under pressure from President-elect Donald Trump to act quickly, made the first move toward scrapping Obamacare on Thursday as the Senate voted to instruct key committees to draft legislation to repeal it.

The House plans to vote on the measure on Friday, Speaker Paul Ryan said. Some Republican lawmakers said on Thursday they were not sure how they would vote.

“I don’t want to vote for this and say it’s the first step (toward repeal), and find out that there are some long-term budget consequences,” said Republican Representative Mark Amodei.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said earlier this month that repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health insurance law in its entirety would cost roughly $350 billion over the next decade. Republicans say a good Obamacare replacement strategy would reduce government spending, but they have not agreed on a consensus plan.

Amodei said he was leaning for now toward voting for the Obamacare repeal resolution. But he added that “listening to the scuttlebutt on the floor … as of right now, my impression is, they (House leadership) don’t have the votes.”

The fate of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, is a high-stakes political showdown between Republicans and Democrats that potentially jeopardizes medical coverage for millions of Americans and risks causing chaos in the health insurance marketplace.

Democrats accused Republicans of rushing to scrap Obamacare, a law that has enabled up to 20 million previously uninsured Americans to obtain health coverage, without yet having a firm replacement plan. The Democrats say Obamacare has allowed growing numbers of Americans to get medical insurance and helped slow the rise in healthcare spending.

Republicans have called Obamacare federal government overreach and have sought to undermine it in Congress and the courts since it was passed by Democratic majorities in the House and Senate in 2010.

Trump, the Republican president-elect who takes office on Jan. 20, called Obamacare a “disaster” during his campaign and pledged to repeal and replace it.

‘MAJOR CONCERNS’

Conservative Republicans as well as moderates expressed concern about launching a repeal before there is clarity about how to replace provisions of the complicated and far-reaching law.

Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which has about 40 members, said they were undecided about how to vote.

Moderate Republican Representative Charlie Dent has “major concerns” about the process, according to a spokesman, fearing a repeal vote at the start diminishes the leverage that may be needed to get some lawmakers to back a replacement later.

The resolution passed by the Senate on Thursday instructs committees of the House and Senate to draft repeal legislation by Jan. 27. Both chambers will then need to approve the resulting legislation before any repeal goes into effect.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi vowed to fight. “I think it’s easier to win a fight when something is going to be taken away from you,” Pelosi said in an appearance with elderly Americans who talked about how they had been helped by the law’s provisions, including lower prescription drug costs.

Ryan said while Congress would take some replacement steps, the incoming Trump administration would be able to act on its own on some aspects, which he did not detail. Ryan said lawmakers were working on dismantling Obamacare “in sync” with Trump.

“We’re not holding hard deadlines, only because we want to get it right,” Ryan said.

Trump put new pressure on congressional Republicans on Wednesday when he said Obamacare repeal and replacement should happen “essentially simultaneously.” An influential conservative group, Heritage Action, late on Wednesday pressed lawmakers to back the repeal resolution.

Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said the replacement effort would likely tackle drug pricing.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Lisa Lambert and Richard Cowan; Editing by Will Dunham and Peter Cooney)

  • KMA

    Wow oann removed my post on how to replace ACA, all numbers were verifiable. Ha Go Figure!

  • Deplorable B Church

    There is no excuse for these nitwits not to have a replacement plan ready to go RIGHT NOW. They have been voting to repeal it for years, and suddenly they say they don’t know what the budget consequences are? What the hell have they been doing down there for the last five years? These idiots need to get it figured out NOW, not later, and get rid of this piece of trash.

  • Ann tired

    watch these spineless worms cave and if they do toss their asses out at the next election.
    Term Limits across the board. and no more than 10 years in politics so no staying like Biden has.

  • DeplorableTollthis

    The “Gutless RINOs” are worried their perpetual employment will end soon!

  • Itsjusme

    20 million previously uninsured americans. FAKE NEWS….5 million previously DID HAVE insurance they wanted but, were forced to change to Obamacouldn’tcarless. Another estimated 3 million didn’t want insurance but, were force (nearly with a gun to their head) to purchase Obamacouldn’tcareless or pay a fine. And, how many of the rest are illegals that don’t qualify?

    REPEAL!

    • Terri Barrow

      Perfectly said, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

  • mattwm

    The Obamacare scam has done a lot of damage. The libterds keep saying that Repubs will put the healthcare industry into turmoil. News flash libterds, Obamacare put the healthcare industry in turmoil, now it’s time to fix the mess you created.

  • stevens123

    Again with the bogus 20 million number. Anyone who has studied the issue understands most of those 20 million would have been eligible for medicaid under the old rules.

  • RURC

    Its about damn time. We have been demanding this for years and the cowards in congress have done nothing.

    Now just REPEAL the thing. DO NOT REPLACE. Just get the hell out of my daily life and wallet you are not my mother. I can take care of myself and family.

  • callmegee

    It is going to be great to have a president who gets things done in a timely manner! Most of us would be better off paying out of pocket for medical care. Obamacare was written by the insurance companies. Take a look at the CEO salaries for all these companies and you will soon have a good idea of where all the insurance dollars are going.

  • waffenss

    How can one be insuring more Americans when the system is crashing. You kneegars need to get your shi-it together.

  • Pingback: U.S. Senate approves measure launching Obamacare repeal process - 32News.net : 32News.net()

  • alvin swenson

    Repeal and replace this piece of crap.

    • Terry Snyder

      Yes Piglosi must go