How the Trump administration may not be able to save Obamacare—and save the ACA
Axios / A.J. Delgado The White House is scrambling to make it clear to President Donald Trump that it can’t simply withdraw the American Health Care Act without changing the law, according to senior administration officials and congressional aides.
The White Senate will hold a procedural vote on Monday that would likely put the final version of the bill on the Senate floor, where Democrats would need a simple majority to pass it.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus are pushing back, warning that a failed vote would lead to the collapse of the ACA and its replacement.
“I would say we’re not going to let this go without a fight,” Priebus told reporters on Tuesday.
“We’re going to go to a vote.
We’re going back to the negotiating table.
And we’re going, ‘OK, here’s what you’re going do.
We have a plan for what you need to do to get to the 60 votes you need for us to do it.’
And that’s where we’re headed.”
But the White House and GOP lawmakers are also looking to Capitol Hill to find a way to salvage the ACA without actually repealing it.
The ACA was designed to protect Americans from the effects of rising health care costs.
The law requires insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions and provide subsidies to people with high deductibles and co-pays, but it also has strict requirements for those with preexisting conditions, making it easier for those to get coverage than for the vast majority of Americans.
Trump and Republicans have tried to make the ACA a vehicle to address the rising cost of health care.
The Trump administration wants to dramatically slash premiums for people with preexsisting conditions and raise tax credits to help them buy insurance.
They’ve also promised to provide billions of dollars to help states create new marketplaces for people to purchase insurance, but there’s still no guarantee the federal government will provide the cash.
The president’s administration has also made it clear that it would rather pass legislation that includes funding for health insurance markets, rather than repeal the ACA entirely.
But it remains to be seen how quickly they can get this done.
McConnell said in a statement on Tuesday that “there will be no vote on the AHCA, including the procedural vote, until after we have had a chance to have our work in hand with Congress.”
Trump, for his part, is expected to sign the AHACA into law.
If the White Senate votes to proceed with a vote on a final bill, the bill would then move to the House, where the GOP has majority control.
Trump has said that he wants to get rid of the requirement that people with health insurance have to have coverage or face a penalty, and he’s been publicly skeptical about the AHRC, calling it a “job killer.”
Senate Democrats are hoping to move the AHC through their lower chamber and then back to a floor vote, a move that would give them a chance at stopping the Whitehouse’s plan to repeal the law.
That could be a hard sell.
McConnell’s comments Tuesday are the latest sign that the White house is trying to convince Trump to keep his promise to repeal and replace the ACA.
Earlier this week, Trump said the bill was “a mess,” and on Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the administration would be pushing to have it passed.
“What we’re doing is making sure that if we get to that point, that the AHCC can move to its next phase,” Sanders said.
“It’s a long-term plan.”
But Priebus, in a conference call with reporters Tuesday, argued that “a vote to do nothing is not a vote to get it done.”
He said that Republicans have a “very strong case” to support the bill.
“This is a proposal that’s got a lot of Republican support,” Priebus said.
Democrats have signaled they won’t be able, as long as the White HOUSE continues to make moves to roll back the ACA’s coverage protections.
“The American Health Law is going to be repealed without any replacement,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Tuesday, referring to the legislation.
“So, we’re gonna be looking at how we can move forward with the AHLC.”