Self-Inflicted Collapse Chokes GOP Effort to Undo 'Obamacare'

GOP Leaders Scramble for Votes on New Health Plan
GOP Leaders Scramble for Votes on New Health Plan
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30 March, 2017

"We had no Democrat support, no votes from the Democrats", Trump said, and calculated that with "10 to 15" more Republican votes, the bill would have been passed by the lower house.

"Obamacare is the law of the land. and we're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future", Ryan conceded a short time after the bill was dropped.

Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan were forced to withdraw the legislation moments before a vote, having failed to round up enough support for passage - leaving the president's campaign pledge to dismantle his predecessor's health care reforms unfulfilled.

But instead of picking up support as Friday wore on, the bill went the other direction, with some key lawmakers coming out in opposition.

For years, Republicans had vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, and now with the presidency and both houses of Congress, they appeared to be in a position to do so.

But Mr Trump said Obamacare was imploding "and soon will explode".

Boehner said last month that while Republicans would fix some problems of Obama's law, a repeal and replacement is "not going to happen".

Friday's events cast doubt on whether Ryan can get major legislation approved by fractious Republican lawmakers.

The episode is a danger point for the relationship between Trump and Ryan, who had an awkward pairing during the campaign but worked in tandem on the GOP health measure.

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., departs after speaking to the media after a Republican caucus meeting on Capitol Hill, Thursday, March 23, 2017, in Washington.

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The measure would have erased much of Obama's 2010 law, eliminating its unpopular requirement that people buy coverage, ending its Medicaid expansion and trimming federal assistance to people to help pay medical bills.

Members of the conservative Freedom Caucus refused to get behind the bill, referring to leadership's proposal as "Obamacare Lite" that simply didn't go far enough in gutting the law.

Trump said Friday "it won't be in the very distant future" before he tries again. "This is a setback no two ways about it".

Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., a member of the House GOP leadership team, declared health care dead for the year.

"Mr Trump should not imagine that angry Americans will blame Democrats, who are totally locked out of power, if he presides over an unraveling of the system".

"I'm really proud of the bill we produced", Ryan said, but later commented "it is so fundamentally flawed" that he doesn't know if it would be possible to continue to prop up the bill as-is.

Republicans had never built a constituency for the legislation, and in the end the almost uniform opposition from hospitals, doctors, nurses, the AARP, consumer groups and others weighed heavily with many members. "I think it would have been fairly combative, sort of internecine warfare, so it was better not to do that". "This bill is pure greed, and real people will suffer and die from it", said Republican Pramila Jayapal of Washington state.

"I share their disappointment that this effort came up short", McConnell added.

Ironically, the outcome hewed more closely to a prediction by Ryan's predecessor, former Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "It would make a dramatic improvement in our health care system".


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