WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR MEDIA) – The American Health Care Act has President Trump’s seal of approval and took its first step on Wednesday at two public hearings toward putting down a conservative rebellion and winning congressional endorsement.
In front of hundreds of spectators, Democrats ripped the Obamacare replacement bill as a slapdash effort that will benefit the rich and hurt low-income as well as older Americans.
The American Health Care Act (AHCA) will eventually slash subsidies currently available to certain insurance subscribers and halt the growing Medicaid rolls.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas demanded that the AHCA face “extreme vetting,” since “it impacts too many lives to have a bill jammed through in the same manner as President Trump’s bungled immigration order.”
House GOP warms to AHCA
Despite Democrats’ objections, Republican members of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee largely backed the GOP plan, calling it a win for the average American.
“If they’re on a plan right now, we’re not pulling a rug out from under their feet,” said Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee. “We’re making sure there’s a glide path and they’re going to be cared for.”
Furthermore, the AHCA is crafted to fulfill several ultra expensive Trump campaign promises regarding healthcare, including vows to; nix the individual mandate, continue covering pre-existing conditions, allow children up to 26 years old to stay on their parents’ health care, and disallow lifetime caps.
“What we’re trying to do is empower people, empower choice,” assets Rep. Tom Reed of New York, who says Republicans are “trying to drive these costs down when it comes to health insurance.”
The House Energy and Commerce Committee also took up the bill on Wednesday, putting it front and center in a second crucial venue.
With each member afforded time to speak and ask questions, lawmakers said they’d already placed dinner and snack orders since the hearings were projected to last long into the evening or early morning.
While the majority of GOPers are on board with the AHCA’s outline, the House Freedom Caucus, made up of unbending budget hawks, says it’s fiscally reckless and have not yet committed to voting for passage.
If they wind up opposing the bill, Speaker Paul Ryan will need some Democratic votes, which would be all but impossible.
Should the AHCA make it to the Senate, a sizable number of Republicans have already made clear that they will demand changes to AHCA’s structure, including its future cuts to Medicaid.
The House is scheduled to take up votes later in March.
Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales