Republicans split over plan to repeal, replace ‘Obamacare'
A group of hardline conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus openly rejected the Congressional Republican leadership's American Health Care Plan Tuesday despite the endorsement of President Trump who called the bill "wonderful" and vowed to help get it passed through Congress.
"It follows the guidelines I laid out in my congressional address, a plan that will lower costs, expand choices, increase competition and ensure health care access for all Americans," said President Trump while meeting with Republican leaders.
House Speaker Paul Ryan touted the plan as a victory over President Obama's Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have been trying to overturn for seven years.
"We have made a promise and we are going to keep that promise," Ryan said.
Criticism however, from the party's far right wing, the House Freedom Caucus, Tea Party and libertarian conservatives.
"We are divided. We have to admit we are divided on replacement. We're united on repeal but we are divided on replacement," Senator Rand said.
"There's the leadership plan that was brought forward, which I believe, when you look through it, is obamacare in a different form," said Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.
Two outside conservative groups, the Heritage Action and Club for Growth also panned the proposal, which would retain federal subsidies for individuals and 31 states with Medicaid expansion through the year 2019.
The open rebellion left Republican leaders less certain about garnering the 218 votes needed to pass the bill through the House. Some suggested it was a take-it-or-leave-it option.
"As Republicans, we have a choice. We can act now or we can keep fiddling around and squander this opportunity to repeal Obamacare," said Kevin Brady, the Texas Republican who chairs the House Ways & Means Committee, where one of the plan's bills will be heard.
Democrats said the Republican plan likely would jeopardize insurance for many of the 20 million who gained coverage through the ACA.
"Perhaps 11 million people will lose their insurance coverage, either in the private insurance markets through the exchanges or through the Medical/Medicaid programs throughout the nation," said California Rep. John Garamendi who represents the Fairfield area.
The non-partisan congressional budget office is still working on its analysis of the total cost.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan saying "The American people and members have a right to know the full impact of this legislation before any vote in committee or by the whole House."
President Trump's Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price tried to reassure Republicans.
"This single bill is not the entire plan. There are 3 different phases, one is this bill that has to go through reconciliation because it's a budgetary process," Price said.
By afternoon, President Trump took to twitter again, trying to befriend rather than berate the Republican rebels.
"I feel sure that my friend @RandPaul will come along with the new and great health care program because he knows Obamacare is a disaster!" President Trump tweeted.
Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Jim Johnson say they will introduce their own legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That would create a direct confrontation between their supporters, Republican leadership and the White House, and perhaps test President Trump's negotiating skills and ability to unify a divided party.