House Republicans on April 6, 2017, put forth an amendment to the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) (H.R. 1628) after ongoing meetings between the White House and House GOP lawmakers. The White House is said to have been leading efforts to bring Republicans together to reach consensus on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) replacement proposal. The original bill was pulled from the House floor on March 24 before receiving a vote because Republicans could not agree on provisions either put forth in the proposal or a lack thereof.
"We have come together on a new amendment that we all believe will lower premiums and provide added protections for those facing real challenges getting access to affordable care," House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) said. "This brings us closer to the final agreement that we all want to achieve." This announcement was made at Ryan’s April 6 press briefing, at which several members of the conservative Freedom Caucus and moderate Tuesday Group all stood together on stage.
The amendment is being formally introduced by Reps. David Schewikert (R-Ariz) and Gary Palmer (R-Ala), both members of the Freedom Caucus. According to Palmer, the amendment implements a federal risk-sharing arrangement that has worked well in the state of Maine, a program from which the amendment is modeled. "It is a high-risk pool that will lower costs for people with preexisting conditions and lower costs for everyone else," Ryan said.
Congress may cut short its scheduled recess to return early for more work on the health care bill, according to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Cal). The House is scheduled to return on April 25. "Should we be prepared to advance our bill through the House in the coming two weeks, we will advise members immediately and give you sufficient time to return to Washington," McCarthy wrote in a memo to House Republicans, as obtained by Wolters Kluwer.
According to Ryan, there is more work to be done before finalizing a new bill that would ensure the necessary Republican votes that it failed to achieve last round. Those conversations continue and look promising, Ryan told reporters.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal) said on April 6, "Republicans are desperate to keep [AHCA] alive, continuing their campaign to raise massive costs on seniors and hard-working families." Likewise, House Minority Whip Steny J. Hoyer (D-Md) criticized the AHCA and its latest amendment. "Today’s attempt by House GOP to revive the failed bill adds more uncertainty for markets and consumers," he said in an April 6 tweet.
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