All sorts of insane pressure, along with last-minute changes in the bill to lure “moderates,” is being brought to bear on House Republicans in an effort to avoid a second disastrous failure to pass Obamacare-repeal-and-partially-replace legislation, a.k.a. the revised American Health Care Act, a.k.a. Zombie Trumpcare. On Tuesday afternoon it looked like the effort was fatally stalled. But then, late that night, word came out that the White House and House GOP leaders were working with announced “no” voter Fred Upton on a plan to throw more money into the bill to subsidize the high-risk pools that would deal with people who had preexisting conditions in states that chose to remove Obamacare provisions prohibiting discrimination against sick folks.
Why the mad rush and the wild swings in tactics? One rationale has been that the House is due to take a one-week recess Thursday night. Can’t force members to change flight arrangements over something so small as the revamping of the U.S. health-care system, right? Wrong! This recess can be postponed or canceled, unlike the long Easter recess members just enjoyed last month.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi may have identified the real need for speed in this particular stage of the health-care saga, as The Hill reports:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House should not vote on repealing ObamaCare until Congress’s budget scorekeeper weighs in.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has told Pelosi’s office a score of the GOP’s repeal-and-replace plan is not coming this week, despite hopes from the White House that it could happen this week.
“Republicans are clearly terrified of their Members and the American people seeing the full consequences of their plan to gut critical protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions,” Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday.
And Republicans should be terrified. The CBO “scoring” of the original American Health Care Act was clearly an important contributor to the bill’s steadily declining popularity in both Washington and around the country. In particular, Republican House members could all too easily imagine attack ads based on CBO’s finding that the bill would eliminate health coverage for 24 million Americans. CBO’s follow-up “scoring” of a tweaked version of the original bill made things worse, as it significantly reduced its estimate of deficit savings without changing the projection of lost health coverage.
What will CBO say about Zombie Trumpcare? No one knows for sure, though presumably the provisions allowing states to waive essential benefit and nondiscrimination provisions could make coverage losses even worse. And the last-minute subsidy boosts could also further erode deficit savings. Any way you slice it, though, the risk of a “bad” score on the eve of a crucial House vote is something Republicans would very much like to avoid. And so, they need a vote if there is to be any chance of success.
Eventually, of course, the CBO score will arrive, certainly before anything happens in the Senate. But that is a problem for another day.