The GOP pulled the American Health Care Act just hours before it was set to reach a vote. What this means for your health care.
House Republicans reportedly pulled President Trump's health care bill Friday afternoon, minutes before the House was slated to vote on the new plan. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) had initially been championed as the GOP's answer to Obamacare, the first in a three-phase plan to repeal it. But in a statement to reporters Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan conceded that it was "fundamentally flawed" and as a result did not garner the 216 votes needed to pass.
Since the bill's introduction in early March, both conservative and more liberal GOP members of Congress expressed disapproval with its handling of American health care—some saying the bill was still hand-holding Americans and others arguing that it would leave millions without insurance. Still, the lack of voting altogether came as a shock in Washington and as a major blow to Republicans, who have vowed to overturn Obamacare since it was first enacted seven years ago. It is a fairly awkward turn of events for President Trump, who campaigned heavily on that promise.
So what exactly went wrong and what happens now?
If Republicans have a majority in the House, why couldn't they make the bill happen?
Simply put, the party couldn't agree. The ACHA failed to earn the approval of all GOP leaders, and in fact, earned some public disdain from many of them. Two distinct circles in the Republican house opposed it—moderate Republicans and the Freedom Caucus (a group formed by hardline conservatives in 2015).
What didn't they like about it?
Some party members worried that the plan would cause many of their constituents to lose health care coverage, or to pay more for insurance premiums. Indeed a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office last week found that at least 14 million people would lose coverage by 2018 if the plan went into effect—a number, they estimated, that could have reached 21 million by 2020. The same report found that premiums would rise initially, but likely fall in the following years.
Other Republicans felt the AHCA was too similar to Obamacare. The three dozen members of the Freedom Caucus, many of whom are anonymous, said the bill didn't do enough to reduce government involvement in health care, and nicknamed it "Obamacare Lite" for its failure to overturn the entire plan.
While the AHCA did include provisions to reduce federal funding for Medicaid and remove penalties for not enrolling in some version of health care, the Freedom Caucus didn't think this was enough. Instead, they called for the removal of "essential health care benefits" that were put in place by Obamacare—including, among other things, maternity services.
So, what happens to health care now?
Essentially, nothing. House Speaker Paul Ryan confirmed today that Obamacare will continue to be America's health care system. "It'll remain law of the land until it's replaced," he told reporters Friday. "We're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future." This means that the wealth of services for women provided under this plan will remain intact—including free access to contraception and coverage of maternity services.
Does that mean Planned Parenthood is safe too?
Correct! The bill included a controversial provision that would have cut off funding to Planned Parenthood for at least one year. Thankfully for the 2.5 million people who depend on its services—which include cancer screenings, STI testing, and mammograms—this will not happen.
Will President Trump try to push this bill or another like it through again?
From what it sounds like, no. Just hours after the vote was canceled, Trump told the Washington Post that he doesn't plan to bring it up again—unless Democrats want to approach him with something new. "He's going to let things be on health care," the Washington Post reporter told MSNBC. "The bill is not going to come again, at least in the near future."