The Republicans are giving Obamacare repeal another try, and this time they may succeed.
Just a few hours after we reported that "Obamacare repeal suddenly looks possible" when two key Republicans - Fred Upton and Billy Long - flipped and decided to support the GOP healthcare bill, leading to immediate speculation the bill has enough support, the WSJ reported that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters Wednesday evening the House will vote on Thursday on the Republican bill to replace most of Obamacare: “we will be voting on the health-care bill tomorrow because we have enough votes.”
When asked by a reporter about whether the bill would have to be pulled from the floor again for lack of support, McCarthy replied: "Would you have confidence? We're going to pass it. We're going to pass it. Let's be optimistic about life."
McCarthy also cited an insurer pulling out of the ObamaCare exchanges in Iowa Wednesday as a reason the law needs to be quickly repealed. "That's why we have to make sure this passes. To save these people from ObamaCare, which continues to collapse."
And so just like at the end of March, when the GOP was confident it had whipped enough names, only to pull the vote in the last moment, the announcement once again sets up a high-stakes vote that is expected to come down to the wire. The House GOP bill, if passed, would roll back much of the 2010 health-care law, replacing its subsidies with a system of tax credits largely tied to age.
Until Wednesday, Republican leaders had struggled to secure the 216 votes they need to pass the bill, which is expected to receive no Democratic support. They pulled the bill from the floor in late March, when conservatives and centrists defected and it became clear the legislation didn’t have the support to pass. Last week, GOP leaders also opted not to vote on the bill ahead of Trump's first 100 days in office.
In any case, McCarthy sounded optimistic about its prospects Wednesday night. “We will pass this bill,” he said. Majority Whip Steve Scalise credited a last-minute amendment from the Upton with drawing new support to the bill. The amendment added spending aimed at bolstering protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions, providing up to $8 billion over five years.
“Some members came together and made some final changes that first and foremost helped people with pre-existing conditions even more and helps lower premiums for people across the board,” Mr. Scalise said. “It helped a number of members get there that weren’t yet.”
And, in pulling yet another page from the Democrats' playbook, the House will pass the vote first before finding out what's in it: the vote will take place without waiting for a new Congressional Budget Office analysis of Upton's changes or the amendment from Rep. Tom MacArthur that won over the House Freedom Caucus. That analysis will eventually provide the details of the bill's effects on coverage and its cost. For now however, Republicans are just scrambling to take advantage of this rare moment of agreement and get something finally done.