- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2017

House Democrats on Wednesday kicked off their last-ditch defense of Obamacare by demanding a new budget analysis of the GOP’s plan to repeal and replace the 2010 overhaul, saying it it impossible to know how last-minute changes will affect the people they represent.

The Rules Committee is meeting to set the terms of debate for a floor vote on the plan Thursday — the seventh anniversary of Obamacare’s passage — but Democrats said they should take stock of how deal-sweeteners designed to bring in GOP holdouts will impact deficits and coverage levels.

“I don’t know why we don’t just wait to consider this bill until we have all the information,” Rep. Jim McGovern, Massachusetts Democrat, said.

Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, Texas Republican, said he expected the Congressional Budget Office to submit a new score late Wednesday, though he couldn’t commit to a specific time.

The committee voted to proceed with their hearing without a new score in hand.

As written, the CBO estimated the plan would save more than $300 billion but result in an eye-popping 24 million fewer people being insured a decade from now, while significantly raising costs for Americans aged 50 to 64.

“Sometimes I think my Republican friends have lost their human ability to feel what 24 million people really means,” Mr. McGovern said, noting the number of people who stand to lose insurance is roughly equal to the population of Australia.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is encouraging members to use all available time to speak against the bill in the Rules Committee and on the floor, saying “the next 48 hours will be all hands on deck.”

Outside the Capitol, Democrats rallied with former Vice President Joseph R. Biden in defense of the Affordable Care Act, which extended coverage to more than 20 million but has suffered from soaring premiums and dwindling choices on its web-based insurance exchanges.

“Simply put, Obamacare is collapsing right before the American people’s eyes,” Mr. Sessions said.

He said voters demanded a change in November’s elections because the law “failed the American people.”

Yet House GOP leaders are still trying to rally their own caucus around the plan that repeals most of Obamacare’s taxes and its mandate requiring Americans to hold insurance, replaces its generous subsidies with refundable, age-based tax credits and reins in and caps spending on Medicaid, the insurance program for the poor.

They cannot afford to lose more than 22 GOP members, since every Democrat is expected to reject the bill.

President Trump told House Republicans they’ll lose their seats in the 2018 midterms, and could cost the GOP its majorities in Congress, if they don’t come around and support the plan.

Mr. Trump planned to meet with members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of 30-plus members that frequently spars with GOP leadership, to try and win their support.

“Big day for health care. Working hard!” the president tweeted Wednesday.

Mr. Trump also railed against Obamacare during a White House meeting on women in health care. Asked what will happen if the bill fails, Mr. Trump said: “”We’ll see what happens.”

Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, told MSNBC that as it stands, there aren’t enough votes to pass the bill.

Mr. Jordan and other “no” votes in the hardline House Freedom Caucus say they support the president and want him to succeed, but that the legislation doesn’t do enough to drive down premiums.



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