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Democrats have begun their fight against the GOP’s replacement for the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law better known as Obamacare.
As the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday held its first day of debate over the GOP replacement, the American Health Care Care Act, Democrats introduced a series of largely symbolic amendments to add to the bill. While the amendments will be considered by the committee, they have to be approved by a majority vote in the Republican-controlled committee to officially become part of the bill.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the more notable amendments from Democrats, in order of their introduction:
Change the short title of the AHCA to the “Republican Pay More for Less Care Act.” The bill cannot pass unless the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation say it will lower out-of-pocket costs for Americans, lower premiums, and provide more people coverage. These were three promises made by President Donald Trump in the lead-up to the bill’s introduction. This was defeated by a party-line vote of 31 to 23 overnight. The bill cannot pass until “the individual who holds the office of President makes available to the public authenticated copies of the individual’s returns of Federal income tax for the most recent ten taxable years.” In other words, the amendment would require Trump to release his tax returns if the bill is passed. The bill cannot leave committee until the CBO has scored the bill and the score has been public for 30 days. Numerous other amendments were attached to CBO scores, including that the CBO must certify that more people will have insurance under the AHCA and that there will be no reduction in mental-health services. A score from the CBO is not expected until next week. Strike the “per capita cap-based payments under Medicaid” in the AHCA and stay with the current Medicaid expansion funding. This amendment was also defeated by a 31-to-23 vote. Preserve federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which the AHCA would do away with. This was defeated on a 31-to-23 vote along party lines.
While it is unlikely any of these measures get added to the bill, the process of adding many amendments could slow down the bill’s passage and allow Democrats to express their displeasure with the AHCA.
The Energy and Commerce Committee is still marking up the bill, some 20 hours after kicking off the marathon session.