House Republicans withdraw health care bill as votes fall short

Mar 24, 2017, 12:54 PM | Updated: 1:57 pm
The Capitol in Washington is seen at sunup, Thursday, March 23, 2017, as the House Republican leade...

The Capitol in Washington is seen at sunup, Thursday, March 23, 2017, as the House Republican leadership scrambles for votes on their health care overhaul. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Republicans withdrew Friday a health care bill meant to replace the Affordable Care Act after it failed to generate enough support.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) withdrew the American Health Care Act after Trump called him and asked him to halt debate without a vote, according to Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong.

“They have Obamacare for a little while longer until it ceases to exists sometime in the future,” Trump told media after the bill was pulled. He also said he thinks Democrats will work with the Republicans in the future on health care reform.

On Thursday, Trump had demanded a House vote and said if the measure lost, he would move on to other issues.

He reiterated that thought after the bill was pulled, saying he would like to turn his attention to tax reform.

“That’ll be next,” he said, though he made several mentions of possibly introducing more health care bills in the “near future.”

Despite reports of backbiting by administration officials aimed at Ryan, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the “speaker has done everything he can. You can’t force people to vote.”

“There’s no question we have left everything on the field,” Spicer said.

Ryan said pulling the bill was a setback, but he feels Congress will work toward health care reform again. He also praised Trump.

“The president gave his all in this effort. He did everything he could,” Ryan said in a press conference after pulling the bill.

The GOP bill would have eliminated the Obama statute’s unpopular fines on people who do not obtain coverage and would also remove the often-generous subsidies for those who purchase insurance.

Republican tax credits would have been based on age, not income like Obama’s, and the tax boosts Obama imposed on higher-earning people and health care companies would have been repealed.

The bill would have ended Obama’s Medicaid expansion and trim future federal financing for the federal-state program, letting states impose work requirements on some of the 70 million beneficiaries.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the Republican bill would have resulted in 24 million additional uninsured people in a decade and lead to higher out-of-pocket medical costs for many lower-income and people just shy of age 65 when they would become eligible for Medicare.

The bill would have blocked federal payments for a year to Planned Parenthood.

At least two Arizona Republicans, Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, had previously said they would not support the bill.

“We’re the legislative body last I looked, not the president,” Gosar said.

Rep. Trent Franks, another Arizona Republicans who is part of the Freedom Caucus group that wanted to attach amendments to the bill, did not say which way he planned to vote.

No Democrats were expected to support the bill.

“Donald Trump just asked House Republicans to walk the plank on healthcare with him, and they let him take the plunge alone,” Rep. Raul Grijalava (D-Ariz.) said in a statement.

Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.) called the decision to pull the bill a victory for rural Arizona.

“The American people made their voices heard and helped defeat the AHCA,” he said in a statement. “This health care bill would have devastated our rural and tribal communities, harmed seniors, and eliminated tax credits for veterans eligible for government health care.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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House Republicans withdraw health care bill as votes fall short