Health Insurance

ObamaCare replacement bill is near dying

WASHINGTON – House Republican leaders frantically attempting to convince moderate GOP holdouts to obtain behind the bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare suffered a severe setback Tuesday with Rep. Fred Upton saying he can't support it because it won't cover pre-existing conditions.

His defection brought to 21 the number of Republican “no” votes. One more and also the bill is doomed.

Fearing that if the bill fails to reach the ground vote by Thursday, Republicans' strategic window will have passed, senior White House officials, V . p . Mike Pence and Health insurance and Human Services Secretary Tom Price happen to be conducting private meetings with members since Monday to address their individual concerns.

“Some members would like more. Some are just trying to figure out the implications from the legislation for their district. It is case-by-case,” an aide to GOP leadership told The Post.

“The problem is that for a lot of our moderates, this is not an easy vote. They might think it's good policy, but it's simple to turn into a political ad if anything goes completely wrong,” the aide said.

In addition to the 21 members who have said they'd vote from the bill, another 16 Republicans remain undecided. Among them are Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, a former co-chair of the moderate Tuesday Group and Trump critic, and Rep. Steve King of Iowa, that has changed his position around the bill more than once.

One person in the 100-person whip team that's trying to win support for the health care bill said Tuesday that opposition towards the legislation is “probably stronger now than it was to begin with.”

Several changes were made last month to enhance the bill's appeal among conservative lawmakers after House Speaker Paul Ryan canceled an anticipated vote at the end of March – changes which have repelled a number of centrist GOP members.

The revised form of the legislation includes the so-called MacArthur Amendment, which provides states the choice to waive rules surrounding essential health advantages and community ratings that were built into ObamaCare.

That provision leaves moderates and blue-state Republicans feeling uneasy as they believe it would enable insurance providers to charge higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions.

President Trump's comments late Monday – that “pre-existing the weather is in the bill” – only exacerbated the problem on Capitol Hill, according to the GOP aide.

“It caused a lot of confusion in our conference,” the aide said.

GOP leadership remains under tremendous pressure from the White House to maneuver the bill towards the House floor before members leave for any one-week recess on Thursday, despite Ryan's repeated refusal to bring the legislation to a vote before the whip team is confident that 216 members are firmly behind it.

“We're not moving as quickly as the White House would like us to, but it's not the White House's job to announce the ground schedule,” the aide said.