Two weeks ago, btw reported on the new health care plan proposed by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Congressional Republicans, called the American Health Care Plan (AHCA). The AHCA was introduced as a replacement for the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act (the ACA or “Obamacare”). However, last Friday, the legislation was killed before it could ever be put up for a vote in the House.
The health care bill would have needed 215 votes to pass the House. President Trump called for a vote on Friday afternoon. However, early in the day on Friday, it looked as if the bill would not have enough votes to pass. Democrats were against the bill, and House Republicans were divided over it: some felt it didn’t go far enough toward repealing the ACA, while many moderate Republicans expressed concern over how many Americans could lose their health care as a result.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, 24 million Americans would have been left uninsured under the new legislation. When it became clear that the AHCA bill did not have enough votes to pass, Speaker Ryan and President Trump agreed to withdraw the bill rather than watch it fail the House floor vote.
What Was the Reaction?
The AHCA was President Trump’s first major legislative attempt, and replacing Obamacare was one of his most prominent and frequently promised campaign promises. The fact that the Republican bill failed so dramatically is a major defeat for the president. Trump responded by blaming congressional Democrats for not supporting the bill, which is largely unfair as the bill was pulled before any Democrat even had a chance to vote on it.
Meanwhile, Democrats and health care activists celebrated the defeat.
So What Happens Now?
The Affordable Care Act will remain in place, at least for now. Trump and the Congressional Republicans have said that they have no plans to try again with another health care bill, and instead will move on to other issues, such as revising the tax code. In the words of Paul Ryan on Friday, “Obamacare is the law of the land . . . for the foreseeable future.”
President Trump has stated that the he is hoping Obama’s ACA will implode on its own if insurance premiums continue to rise. (See the embedded video above for more of President Trump’s statements on the day that the American Health Care Act was pulled out of Congress.
Meanwhile, members of both parties agree that the ACA needs to be improved. But Democrats have said that those kinds of conversations can only start to happen if the Republicans scrap their insistence on a new bill. Now that the Republicans’ AHCA has been soundly defeated before it even began, it’s possible that politicians on both sides of the aisle will be able to come together to revise and improve the ACA and truly improve health care access for all Americans.