If House Republican leaders convince all roughly 22 uncommitted and undecided GOP lawmakers to support the current version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), they could probably pass the bill before leaving for an 11-day break on Friday. As of Tuesday night, they don't have a vote scheduled. After days of personal lobbying by House Speaker Paul Ryan, President Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence, a few Republican holdouts have switched to yes, including Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).
But GOP leaders have also suffered some defections, including Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) and, on Tuesday, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), a former chairman of the committee that wrote several ObamaCare repeal bills and an influential GOP voice on health care. Upton, like Long and other mostly center-right holdouts, expressed concern about provisions in the current version of the AHCA that would potentially allow insurers in states that requested waivers to charge people with pre-existing conditions more for insurance, pricing some of them out of the market. On a radio show, Upton said the current bill "torpedoes" safeguards for people with pre-existing conditions, even as Ryan was trying to assure members it doesn't.
Ryan is working on a new amendment to ease concerns in his caucus about pre-existing conditions, and it could be released Wednesday, Politico reports; some House Republicans say they're hearing that one "tweak" would add billions more to high-risk pools run by states, essentially the actuarial version of quarantining people with large health-care bills like cancer patients and diabetics. Trump will also host opponents at the White House Wednesday, trying to flip enough no votes to schedule a House vote on Thursday.
Still, "a sense of gloom settled over House Republicans on Tuesday" as the prospects for an AHCA vote before lawmakers return to face constituents receded, Politico says. "Even several GOP whips tasked with drumming up support for the bill said Monday night they have not yet made up their minds on whether to support the revised American Health Care Act." And on Monday night, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel made an emotional father's plea for protecting people with pre-existing conditions, like his infant son, Billy. As of Tuesday night, 6.5 million people had watched it on YouTube, including former President Barack Obama, who tweeted out his thanks and congratulations on the new addition to Kimmel's family. You can learn more in the CNN discussion below. Peter Weber