Two prominent moderate Republican congressman have decided to support their party’s legislation to replace the country’s health care law that is commonly known as Obamacare.
Representatives Fred Upton and Billy Long reversed course Wednesday after negotiating an amendment with President Donald Trump at the White House. The amendment adds $8 billion over five years to the proposal to help people with pre-existing conditions afford coverage.
Before leaving the White House, Long told reporters the only way he would support the new measure was “to make sure those people are covered because they need to be covered. Period.”
Upton, author of several Obamacare repeal bills, said their amendment would put “downward pressure” on premium costs.
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said despite the addition of money to help those with pre-existing conditions, the bill “will make it impossible for millions of Americans to afford the health coverage that they need. This is deadly. This is deadly!”
The debate centers on an amendment that would give states the ability to apply for exemptions from “essential” benefits in the current law such as emergency and maternity care, and from uniform insurance rate requirements for people of the same age — regardless of their health conditions.
Upton predicted the bill would “likely” come to a vote tomorrow in the House of Representatives, which is up against a fast-approaching deadline. The House is scheduled to be in recess for 11 days beginning Friday.
Even with Upton and Long changing their minds, it remains uncertain if the revised bill can get enough support from those who are undecided to be approved.
Upton’s reversal was particularly significant because he is a respected voice on health care issues and former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Republican leaders can absorb a maximum of 22 “no” votes and still win approval. About 20 congressmen, mostly moderates, are publicly opposed to the bill. Even more lawmakers have said they are still undecided.
The White House is hoping the president’s meeting with the influential lawmakers will help convince some of the undecided moderates to vote in favor of the bill.