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Republicans are making one final effort to move forward with their plan to reform the US healthcare system before Congress goes on a two-week break.
The House Rules Committee will consider an amendment to the American Health Care Act to fund high-risk pools in states in an attempt to show progress on the GOP’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare before the House begins a two-week recess on Friday.
The full AHCA is not expected to move to the House floor.
In a press conference announcing the new amendment, House Speaker Paul Ryan said the new amendment showed the House GOP was moving forward with its plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the healthcare law officially known as the Affordable Care Act.
“This is a step in the right direction – it’s closer to the goal and agreement,” Ryan said.
Ryan also said the GOP was still on track to deliver on the promise of repeal and replace despite the false starts on the AHCA.
“We are well within that spectrum of timelines that we envisioned on dealing with Obamacare legislation,” Ryan told reporters.
Ryan repeatedly said before the introduction of the AHCA that the Republicans would repeal and replace Obamacare by the end of March. He has since said there is no firm timeline for the healthcare legislation.
Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs and Billy House reported that the move on high-risk pools represented an attempt to show some progress on the healthcare bill after months of setbacks and an inability of House Republicans to come to a consensus on the details of their healthcare overhaul.
High-risk pools have long been a target for House Republicans, and passing the amendment would show some consensus before the Easter break.
The pools separate individuals with preexisting conditions from healthier people. They would be designed to bring down costs for people without ailments and could improve losses for insurers. Critics of the plan say many states had high-risk pools before the Affordable Care Act and the costs were so high that few people enrolled in them. To solve this issue, they say, the federal government would have to massively subsidize the costs for people in these pools.
House GOP leaders met with members of the Trump administration at the White House on Wednesday over the failed attempts to get the AHCA passed through the lower chamber.
The Washington Post’s Robert Costa reported that the meeting of White House officials including Vice President Mike Pence, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, and chief strategist Steve Bannon and House leaders including Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was tense.
Costa reported that Pence demanded action on healthcare and that the meeting was “at times heated.”
Pence, Priebus, and Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, have been working with lawmakers to iron out details in the AHCA that would get enough members on board to pass the bill. The AHCA was pulled minutes before a House vote last month after disagreements between the conservative House Freedom Caucus and moderate members left the bill short of the votes needed to pass.
Talks between the conservative and moderate wings of the GOP House conference have not yielded any common group on regulations. Conservatives still want a repeal of regulations such as essential health benefits and community ratings, which moderates say would allow people with preexisting conditions to be charged exorbitant insurance premiums.