GOP withdraws AHCA ahead of vote

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After four hours of floor debate Friday, House Republican leaders withdrew the American Health Care Act (AHCA) before the legislation went to a full vote.

Republican leaders determined they didn’t have enough votes to pass the bill that would repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Democrats opposed the bill, saying it would cause too many people to lose insurance coverage and raise costs for those who can least afford it, but GOP members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus have also opposed the bill, saying it did not go far enough in rolling back the ACA’s tax subsidies.

Republican leaders made several changes to the bill in an effort to garner support from GOP holdouts, but those changes and urging from President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan were not enough to appease that block. The changes also alienated moderate Republicans, who began pulling support of the legislation.

Ryan said the failed legislation is part of the GOP’s “growing pains” in evolving from an opposition party to a governing party. He said Americans would have to live with the ACA, known as Obamacare, “for the foreseeable future.”

“I won’t sugarcoat this,” Ryan said during a news conference. “This is disappointing for us.”

Trump, speaking Friday afternoon from the Oval Office, said Republicans were very close, but it’s difficult to pass legislation with no support from Democrats. He said perhaps the best thing the GOP can do politically is to “let Obamacare explode.”

The American Hospital Association (AHA), LeadingAge and SDAHO joined numerous other health care groups in opposition to the bill in its current form.

Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, said the measure was deeply flawed, especially with regard to the reductions it would make in Medicaid coverage for seniors and people with disabilities.

“Since the introduction of the AHCA legislation, LeadingAge members and their residents have sent thousands of messages to Congress in opposition to the bill,” said Smith Sloan. “We are thrilled that their voices have been heard and their concerns recognized.”

Smith Sloan said that if Congress decides to move forward with changes to the Affordable Care Act, it should follow a more open and deliberative process with opportunity for public input and full consideration of the impact of policy changes.