Two committees in the U.S. House of Representatives cleared the first obstacles to the American Healthcare Act, which is supported by President Donald Trump.
On Tuesday, the Republicans in the House of Representatives unveiled the American Healthcare Act to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) popularly known as Obamacare.
The Energy and Commerce Committee passed the American Healthcare Act to undo the Obamacare despite strong opposition from Democrats on Thursday after marathon proceedings that lasted 27 straight hours.
In a statement, Cong. Greg Walden, chairman of the committee, said, “After conducting an open ad transparent markup, we are proud to put forth a plan that represens a Better Way for patients and families.”
Walden added that the committee maintained important provisions including protecting patients with pre-existing conditions.
The committee’s legislation creates a patient and state stability fund to provide states broad flexibility to design programs that best serve their population. It also unwinds the Medicaid expansion under the Obamacare by freezing new enrollment at the end of 2019 and grandfathering current enrollees to protect patients and offer stable transition. It also strengthen Medicaid by using per capita allottment.
“We’re one step closer to helping American families across the country obtain and maintain affordable health care,” said Walden.
The Committee on Ways and Means also approved the legislation after 17 straight hours of discussions. Cong Kevin Brady, chairman of the committee, said the Republicans “voted repeatedly to end Obamacare’s crushing taxes and mandates and ensure patients have more power over their own health care. This legislation reflects President Trump’s strong commitment to improving health care for all Americans.”
Passage of American Healthcare Act still uncertain
Political observers suggested that the chances for the American Healthcare Act to pass the Congress remained uncertain. Democrats, influential conservative groups and lawmakers strongly opposed the bill.
Republican Senator Rand Paul and Freedom Works director of public policy and legislative affairs called the American Healthcare Act as “Obamacare Lite.” Sen. Paul emphasized that the bill will not pass.
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Senator Bernie Sanders said the Republican healthcare bill is a “Robinhood in reverse” citing the reason it would throw five to ten million people off insurance. It will also “raise premiums for low- income and working class people and defunding planned parenthood that two million women get healthcare where they want.
Furthermore, Sanders emphasized that the American Healthcare Act is good news for the top two percent. He said, “Republicans offer you a significant tax break.”
House Speaker Ryan urges fellow Republicans to support the bill
House Speaker Paul Ryan encouraged his fellow Republicans to support the American Healthcare Act and promised to take additional steps to address their concerns.
“The time is now. This is the closest we’ve been to repealing and replacing Obamacare,” said Speaker Ryan during a press conference on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Pres. Trump tweeted, “Despite what you hear in the press, healthcare is coming along great. We are talking to many groups and it will end in a beautiful picture!”
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