Speaker Paul Ryan, by making several eleventh-hour changes, demands that Republicans pass the Obamacare replacement bill without fully knowing what is in it.
Former Speaker John Boehner once criticized Democrats for not knowing the contents of Obamacare before passing the bill. He said, “Have you read the bill? Have you read the reconciliation bill? Have you read the manager’s amendment? Hell no, you haven’t!”
Ironically, Republican leadership is using the same tactics Democrats employed to pass Obamacare to repeal and replace it with Ryancare.
Republicans in Congress criticized the cloak-and-dagger tactics utilized by the GOP leadership, including fast-tracking the bill. The House Rules Committee plans to add on a “manager’s amendment” to add changes to Obamacare’s replacement that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not been able to review. Four congressmen, including Justin Amash (R-MI), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Walter Jones (R-NC), and David Young (R-IA), have opposed the fast-tracking of the measure. All four conservatives opposed Speaker Ryan’s Obamacare-Lite bill.
Congressman Amash tweeted last night:
We must have the opportunity to read and understand the final bill before we vote. It's irresponsible to do otherwise. https://t.co/91HeTkY8Db
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) March 24, 2017
Proposed last-minute changes to the bill include repealing Obamacare’s essential health benefits, which require that health insurance companies cover certain services such as mental health, prescription drugs, and maternity care. Conservatives criticized Obamacare’s essential health benefits for driving up health-insurance premiums. The GOP is expected to add $15 billion to a “state stability fund” to provide for mental health and maternity coverage. The leadership plans to pay for the expanded stability fund by retaining Obamacare’s 0.9 percent Medicare tax on high-income earners for the next few years.
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said that if House Republicans do not pass Obamacare on Friday, America is stuck with Obamacare.
Republicans close to GOP leadership downplayed the importance of a CBO score. Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) said, “I know this will all make the deficit better.”
A revised CBO score on Thursday revealed that 24 million would still lose insurance by 2026 while saving less money than the previous version of Paul Ryan’s American Health Care Act. The previous version would save $337 billion over the next ten years, while the current version of Ryancare only saves $150 billion.
Rep. Cole explained that the bill would not add to the deficit despite not having a CBO report reviewing all of the last-minute changes to Ryancare. He said, “Because it doesn’t take the CBO — because I know the range, what the initial CBO score was, and I know the range of changes that they’re talking about.”
The House Rules Committee is expected to meet early Friday morning to add on last-minute changes to Speaker Ryan’s American Health Care Act. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said that the bill could come before the floor by Friday afternoon.