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Live updates: Will Obamacare be repealed under Trump?

President Donald Trump this morning targeted House Freedom Caucus members who continue to oppose the GOP’s Obamacare repeal bill ahead of the planned vote. | Getty

It’s make-or-break for the GOP’s troubled health care plan.


House lawmakers are preparing a vote on the Republicans’ contentious Obamacare repeal bill after President Donald Trump adopted a take-it-or-leave-it approach to bring the measure to the floor — but there are new signs the bill is in trouble.

Despite late concessions to both conservative and moderate Republicans, it’s still not clear whether House leaders can unite enough lawmakers who have vastly different visions for the health care system. Key moderates started to peel away from the bill Friday afternoon, raising doubts about whether a vote would still be held.

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The White House insists the vote will still be held on Friday afternoon, even as House Speaker Paul Ryan is briefing the president on the vount vote.

Here’s a live rundown of Friday’s action:

Spicer: Trump has given his all. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the White House still wants a vote Friday, as he defended Trump’s role in pushing the bill. Trump “has left everything on the field when it comes to this bill,” Spicer said. “The president and his team have committed everything they can to making this thing happen. And the speaker is going to continue to update him on the way forward.”

Spicer reiterated that negotiations on the bill are done and Republicans now have to decide whether to make good on their years-long pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“I think at the end of the day — you know, I said this yesterday — you can’t force people to vote,” he said. “But I think we’ve given them every single reason to fulfill every pledge that they’ve made, and I think this is the right thing to do.”

Ryan heads to White House, 12:40 p.m. House Speaker Paul Ryan made an unexpected visit to the White House to brief President Donald Trump on the status of the GOP’s contentious Obamacare repeal bill just hours before the House is expected to vote on the measure.

Ryan’s meeting with Trump at the eleventh hour raises serious concerns about the fate of the bill. A wave of other centrists have come out against the bill, citing concerns that it more barriers to coverage and care. Many members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus also remain opposed to the bill and demand full repeal of Obamacare.

House tees up repeal vote, 11:30 a.m. The House took a procedural step to set up final vote on Obamacare repeal. The chamber voted 230-194 to let debate move forward on the bill. Six Republicans voted no, but that doesn’t indicate how the vote on final passage will turn out.

New amendments can’t be offered on the floor, and debate will last four hours. That sets up a late afternoon vote on final passage.

Veep clears his schedule. Vice President Mike Pence has canceled plans to travel to the NCAA basketball tournament today to help corral support for the bill.

House chairman will vote against bill, 11:05 a.m. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), who leads the powerful Appropriations Committee, announced he’ll oppose the bill, citing major cuts to Medicaid in a state that expanded the program under Obamacare. He also said stripping out the law’s benefit requirements would “raise serious coverage and cost issues.”

Potential problems for the GOP bill, 10:50 a.m. Over at the Incidental Economist blog, law professor Nicholas Bagley points out a slew of potential problems with the GOP plan to eliminate Obamacare’s coverage requirements (i.e. “essential health benefits”) next year. The most fundamental issue: Insurers are already well into the process of crafting 2018 health plans.

The GOP bill, in a late revision yesterday, would instruct states to determine their own benefit requirements. This would potentially create a logistical and administrative nightmare if health plans have to wait on states to make this determination.

So what might lead Republicans to propose such an unwieldy approach? One plausible theory: It’s all about appeasing the Senate parliamentarian.

The language pertaining to coverage requirements isn’t entirely new. It was part of the very first draft of the American Health Care Act leaked to POLITICO last month (see page 44 of the draft). But there was a crucial difference: the language deferring coverage requirements to states wouldn’t have taken effect until 2020.

Speeding up implementation to 2018 creates an unusual dynamic for the next two years. Obamacare’s subsidy structure tied to income will remain in place, limiting how much beneficiaries can pay for coverage. But Obamacare’s 10 benefit requirements will no longer be in effect. What that means is impossible to predict. Will states require coverage of fewer benefits? More benefits? Fail to take any action whatsoever? (potentially setting up a new round of health reform lawsuits, as Bagley posits.)


But one thing is fairly certain: It will change how much the federal government spends on subsidies in the next two years. That could be enough to convince the parliamentarian that it passes the Byrd test — and keeps alive the GOP dream of jamming the House bill through the Senate next week.

Administration officials not making predictions, 10:05 a.m. HHS Secretary Tom Price refused to answer questions about what would happen if the House bill fails, telling CNN, “That’s palace intrigue.” He said he was optimistic the bill would have enough votes to pass, but in a later Fox News interview he reiterated that the White House is done negotiating. “The kinds of proposals and the kinds of changes that were agreed to yesterday, that’s it,” Price said. “And as the president said yesterday, look, it is time to put up your vote.”

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said this morning that he didn’t know if the bill has enough votes to pass. “That’s up to the House to count their own votes,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Mulvaney also offered some advice to people who might be upset that the GOP plan would repeal Obamacare’s benefit requirements and let states set their own standards. If they don’t like what’s available in their state, he said, people should “figure out a way to change the state that you live in.”

Committee clears procedural hurdle, 9:07 a.m. The House Rules Committee advanced a rule to bring the GOP’s Obamacare repeal bill to the floor. It restricts new amendments from being offered on the floor and sets floor debate for four hours.

Trump taunts House Freedom Caucus ahead of repeal vote, 8:23 a.m. — President Donald Trump this morning targeted House Freedom Caucus members who continue to oppose the GOP’s Obamacare repeal bill ahead of the planned vote.

“The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!” Trump tweeted. (The bill would cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood for one year.

The president’s attack on the caucus comes after he failed to cut a deal with conservative lawmakers who demand a full repeal of Obamacare. Many caucus members say they’re still opposed to the bill.

Rules back in session, 7 a.m. The House Rules Committee convened to hammer out the final details of the measure which is expected to include repeal of Obamacare’s requirement that insurers cover benefits like hospitalization, prescription drugs, mental health and maternity care. It’s also expected to include an additional $ 15 billion fund for states to use for maternity and behavioral health services.

“This amendment is all about ensuring that states can design health care plans that are right for them,” House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said as work resumed. “The critics will say that Washington is abandoning important provisions in health care law, like mental health care or substance abuse … But that is not true. What we are recognizing is each of these are important provisions to different people at different times in their lives.”

Paul Demko contributed to this report.

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