Speed Reads


Last-minute dealmaking on the GOP health-care bill leaves new uncertainties on Thursday's vote

Republicans say they still plan to put the American Health Care Act up for a vote on Thursday, even as the White House and House Republican leaders worked through the night to whip up enough votes to ensure passage. "There is no Plan B," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday. "There's Plan A and Plan A. We're going to get this done."

Late Wednesday, the White House and the conservative House Freedom Caucus reportedly reached a deal to strike ObamaCare's requirement that insurance plans cover 10 "essential health benefits" — including hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health, emergency services — and the Freedom Caucus will press their other demands in a meeting with President Trump on Thursday morning. They want to scrap at least some of ObamaCare's Title One provisions, which include prohibitions against denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions and annual or lifetime coverage limits. Even with the changes, many members of the caucus would not commit to voting yes on the bill.

After news of the Freedom Caucus deal spread, House GOP moderates met with House Speaker Paul Ryan and his leadership team and balked at the changes. The House moderates say they are concerned that the AHCA will cause people to lose health insurance and raise costs for the poor and elderly, and the fact that Freedom Caucus members wouldn't sign on even with the hard-to-swallow changes made them even worse. "Everybody's frustrated," one lawmaker in the meeting told Politico. "Some moved; some stayed the same.... Nobody goes closer to the bill on that one."

The changes demanded by House Freedom Caucus members aren't opposed by most Republicans, but they would make passage in the Senate, already facing long odds, even more difficult, as they could render the bill ineligible for the filibuster-proof "reconciliation" process. Mike DeBonis explains the situation at The Washington Post: "The White House and GOP congressional leaders have told the Freedom Caucus that meeting their demands would essentially kill the American Health Care Act before it is born, but the Freedom Caucus, egged on by several conservative Republican senators, refuses to believe that is the case." House Republicans can't lose more than 22 votes.