House Republicans pass Health Care Legislation; Bill Heads to Senate

House Republicans pass Health Care Legislation; Bill Heads to Senate

Donald Trump had a reason to celebrate as House Republicans carried the day, after a long fight, voting by a narrow margin for the bill that will repeal and replace Obamacare. This was one of the President’s prime campaign promises, and has proven much harder than he first anticipated during the campaign.

The bill, laden with compromises and provisions to win the support of the more extreme conservatives in the House, like members of the far-right Freedom Caucus, who had blocked a previous effort, must now face scrutiny in the Senate, which will be a tough road to travel.

Democrats presented a unified front, with no defectors, voting 293 against the republican bill, and 0 for it, while republicans voted 217 for, 20 against, permitting the bill to pass by 217 to 213 (with one abstention)—-a victory by a very narrow 4 vote margin.

Since the bill must still pass through a skeptical Senate, with only a narrow 2 seat majority for republicans, and since there are several republican Senators publicly critical of the bill, there’s no guarantee that repeal and replace will become the law of the land.

Republicans have long bristled at the notion that Americans must purchase insurance products under a government mandate of any kind, which is how they viewed the Affordable Care Act. The new legislation affords a number of opt-out opportunities to quell this concern.

But if the bill does pass, democrats and concerned citizens fear that 24 million Americans will lose health insurance coverage over the next decade. In addition, many fear that protections for patients with pre existing conditions, one of the strengths of the Affordable Care Act, will be greatly weakened, potentially endangering the lives of many sick and injured Americans.

Learn more about what the new health care bill faces in the Senate (The New York Times)


Photo: By Peter Larson/Medill News Service – Detail from, CC BY 2.0, Link

President Trump’s Ultimatum on a healthcare vote

President Trump's Ultimatum on a healthcare vote

It’s a showdown for President Trump. He’s given Congress an ultimatum, to pass his health care bill, or face the wrath of angry voters. And many republican lawmakers, like President Trump himself, ran on platforms promising to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Earlier today, following intense negotiations, the President, who presents himself as a master negotiator, failed to convince enough members of the House’s conservative Freedom Caucus to pledge to vote for the new plan, forcing House Republicans to cancel Thursday’s vote. Since Thursday was the seventh anniversary of Obamacare’s inception, this turned a planned victory into an embarrassment, and a potential defeat.

According to the President, this may be the last opportunity for congress to repeal Obamacare, which is anathema to conservative republicans. But many of the government’s most conservative politicians find the replacement plan too similar to Obamacare. They claim to prefer fewer required benefits and less mandated coverage, which they say frees insurance companies to create plans that meet the needs of consumers, and empowers consumers to find the plan that’s right for them, without unnecessary and costly features.

However, democrats fear this will give insurance companies cart blanche to create inadequate plans, saving themselves money, but leaving consumers without adequate protection in the process. The plan has also been criticized for potentially leaving over 20 million people uninsured. And this would follow years during which Obamacare greatly reduced the number of uninsured people throughout the United States.

Now President Trump, the negotiator, has brazenly called for an end to negotiations. He demands a vote on Friday. Is this a clever strategy, or a poor and arrogant decision for the President? Freedom Caucus Republicans are not his servants. They are fiercely independent, and ideologically extreme. Many believe they are freeing the people, by taking away a requirement for government mandated healthcare, which they view as a kind of unconstitutional burden (which the Supreme Court, it’s important to note, does not.)

By attempting to force their hand, he may not get the results he hopes for. It’s a big, high stakes gamble for President Trump. His success in this matter would do a lot to quell concerns over the many concerns over his competence, rationality, and efficacy, and the integrity of his administration. A failure would exacerbate his many problems, and represent a failure to achieve one of his primary campaign objectives.

Learn more about President Trump’s ultimatum to congress (CNN)


Photo: By Boss Tweed (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons