House Republicans again delay vote on the AHCA

For the second time in five weeks, House Republican leaders have canceled an anticipated vote on a GOP replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

As they did in March, House GOP leadership lobbied hard to line up the support necessary for passage, but pulled the plug on a vote when it became clear that passage was unlikely.

While the GOP appeared to be closer to getting the revised American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed than it did in March – in large part due to concessions aimed at the party’s most conservative members – the amended bill still is opposed by at least 18 House Republicans. Given that 1) a “no” vote by more than 22 GOP House members would kill the legislation, and 2) a large number of moderate Republicans remain undecided, House GOP leaders opted to avoid a potentially embarrassing defeat for Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump.

The House instead is expected to vote Friday on a continuing resolution that would extend government funding by one week in order to provide members with more time to work out details of a longer-term appropriations plan and gain more support for the AHCA.

As Healthcare Finance News reports, before the recent legislative break the House Rules Committee approved an amendment to the AHCA “that would create a federal risk sharing program for insurers.” The amendment, sponsored by conservative GOP House members Gary Palmer of Alabama and David Schweikert of Arizona, was aimed at Freedom Caucus members, the most conservative Republicans in Congress.

But as the New York Times notes, “the latest version of the House bill seemed to offer little that would entice anyone with reservations other than the hardline conservatives.”

“The proposed changes to this bill would leave too many of my constituents with pre-existing conditions paying more for health insurance coverage, and too many of them will even be left without any coverage at all,” the Times quotes House member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican.

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