Just days after winning conservative support for an amended bill to gut the taxes and mandates associated with Obamacare, Republicans are still struggling to find the votes for passage, but the man leading the legislative effort is confident the votes will eventually be there.
GOP leaders have given their blessing to an amendment championed by Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. But while giving states more say in the health plans offered to their residents is winning the applause of conservatives, moderates seem to be leaving in numbers big enough to sink the bill.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas., is confident the votes will eventually come around.
“I think the hesitation has only been to be able to digest this, to be able to think about how it applies back home, before they commit their vote. The conversations that I’ve been in are very positive and we’re just going to keep working on it,” said Brady.
And despite the pressure from Democrats and the media on the timetable for getting this done, Brady says he’s less concerned about meeting a specific deadline.
“I’m a big believer in letting the consensus drive the timing. So don’t set a date. I want to deliver on my promise to repeal Obamacare: all the taxes, all the mandates, all the subsidies, defund Planned Parenthood and return control to the states. That is what I am intent on doing,” said Brady.
Brady, who played a key role in crafting the original American Health Care Act, says the current bill is an improvement.
“Centrists and conservatives sat down and said, ‘How can we make this better?’ As a result, the MacArthur amendment , as well as the Palmer amendment before it, continue to lower premiums , which is what we want for every American, gives states more flexibility to design plans that are right for the state and the community rather than Washington control,” said Brady.
Brady says if this bill can get through and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price acts to roll back regulations, much of Obamacare will be history.
“Getting steps one and two done with the White House repeals 90 percent of that or more and puts in place free market options but we still have more work to do,” said Brady.
“Allowing types of business to join together, to buy across state lines, to have much better options, (as well as) malpractice reform, where we get those junk lawsuits out of medicine. All of those are going to have to be standalone bills,” said Brady, noting that Senate rules cannot allow everything to be done by reconciliation, which would skirt the possibility of a filibuster.
Brady says some of the more popular provisions in the current law would stay, including no one being refused coverage for pre-existing conditions, allowing children to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26, abolishing lifetime caps and more.
Brady says it is not only vital to pass the AHCA in order to bring relief to struggling Americans, he says it’s vital for the next major priority – tax reform.
“We never anticipated in tax reform having to also repeal another trillion dollars of taxes that were included in Obamacare. All these taxes hurt the economy. They raise costs on patients. They hammer small businesses. We need them gone, but if we had to do that through tax reform, that would mean we couldn’t lower the rates as much for families or local businesses or to become competitive against China and Europe,” said Brady.
In fact, Brady believes getting the AHCA through is really the trigger for accomplishing much of the Trump agenda.
“This is all about momentum for the Republican conservative agenda in Washington. This president wants to shake things up. We need to be right there to deliver on these big changes, so building the momentum off of health care into tax reform, I think, is helpful,” said Brady.