Last week, CNN obtained a draft Congressional Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act with a plan that would replace subsidies with smaller tax credits, allow insurance to charge senior citizens more, decimate Medicaid, and cause millions of Americans to lose their coverage altogether.
But after a series of high-profile conservative defections, a GOP leader confirmed Tuesday that that version is “no longer even a viable draft.”
A trio of prominent House Republicans made it clear that even this bill was not conservative enough for them. While the bill would mean the loss of health insurance for millions of Americans, they objected to provisions in the bill that would help some people remain covered.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who chairs the House Freedom Caucus (a group of a few dozen of the most conservative Republicans in Congress), announced on Monday that he could not support that proposal because included refundable tax credits to help people pay for health insurance and some tax increases. “A new Republican president signs a new entitlement and a new tax increase as his first major piece of legislation? I don’t know how you support that — do you?” he asked, adding that many members of his caucus would be willing to vote against the leaked draft.
Rep. Mark Walker, another North Carolina Republican and chair of the Republican Study Committee (a group that calls itself the “conservative caucus of House Republicans” and includes more than 170 of the 238-member GOP majority), followed suit soon after.
“The draft legislation, which was leaked last week, risks continuing major Obamacare entitlement expansions and delays any reforms,” Walker said, adding that the proposal “kicks the can down the road in the hope that a future Congress will have the political will and fiscal discipline to reduce spending that this Congress apparently lacks.” He said he would urge colleagues to oppose the proposal.
On Tuesday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA), joined the pile-on. He told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that he presumed the leaked plan did not include entirely “hard facts,” but said the he wants to see only “a full, 100% repeal of Obamacare.” “I don’t want any of it left behind,” he explained, because “a free people that are the recipients of God-given liberty… have had our health taken over by the federal government.”
In light of these defections, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) told The Hill on Tuesday that “ that draft is no longer valid,” but promised that his party would eventually pass some repeal and replace legislation.
President Trump, who has already broken his promise to “immediately” fix the healthcare system by replacing the Obamacare with an unspecified plan that would provide “great health care for a fraction of the price,” has yet to propose any replacement plan or to endorse the House GOP’s proposal. On Monday, he complained that health policy was “unbelievably complex subject” — a detail he claimed had been totally unknown to anyone before — yet assured the public that he has a solution that is “really, really I think very good.”
Last week, Rep. Mike Burgess (R-TX) admitted the he believes having fewer people covered would actually be “a good thing,” because it would indicate that “we’ve restored personal liberty in this country.”
This post has been updated to include Rep. Scalise’s comments.