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Friday
Mar172017

Some conservatives line up behind health care plan for vote next week

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Republicans are moving forward with their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, making several concessions to conservatives that appear to have put the American Health Care Act on track for passage late next week.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., predicted “there will be no upsets” when lawmakers vote on the proposal next Thursday, which coincides with the seven-year anniversary of President Obama's signing of the Affordable Care Act.

Here’s the latest:

The art of the deal

President Trump met with several influential conservatives from the Republican Study Committee in the Oval Office today, committing to make several changes to the bill, including providing states with the option to block-grant Medicaid, which empowers states to spend Medicaid funds from the federal government however they want. The legislation will also be amended to include work requirements for Medicaid recipients who are able-bodied and without dependents.

Conservatives also received a commitment from the president to ensure that tax credits in the plan cannot be used to pay for abortions.

Trump told reporters that those changes had persuaded several Republicans who had been leaning against the measure to vote for it.

“These folks were noes, mostly noes yesterday, and now, every single one is a yes,” Trump said. “I just want to say, ‘Thank you.’ We are going to have a health care plan that is second to none. It’s going to be great.”

Any barriers left?

It is unclear whether the changes could cause some moderate Republicans to abandon support for the legislation, although McCarthy’s plans to proceed to a vote next week indicate his confidence that his vote count has sufficient backing for passage.

“On balance and with the changes we agreed to in the bill’s final text, I can vote for it,” Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, stated. “We will continue working to advocate changes to the bill, and hope the legislation improves in the Senate.”

Other conservatives from the House Freedom Caucus, like Rep. Mark Meadows, were not satisfied with the agreement, although Republicans can afford to lose 21 votes from within their conference before the bill is killed.

What’s next?

The next step for the legislation is consideration in the House Rules Committee, where the underlying legislation is expected to be amended to include today’s developments. Timing for that hearing has yet to be announced, but is expected as soon as Monday evening.

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