The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the latest version of the American Health Care Act, which would repeal and replace Obamacare. The final vote was 217-213, with 20 Republicans joining the Democratic ranks to vote “nay.”
Democrats in the chamber, confident that the bill will cost many Republicans their seats in the next election, could be heard singing the famous chorus from “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.”
With the House Freedom Caucus, a coalition of conservative Republicans, on board, GOP leaders in the House were optimistic. Many members of the Freedom Caucus rejected the previous version of the AHCA in March, which heavily contributed to the original proposal being pulled from the House floor without receiving a vote.
The latest AHCA bill would remove the Obamacare taxes levied on insurance carriers and the wealthy and would eliminate the individual mandate that the Affordable Care Act previously established.
It would also remove subsidies that currently lower premiums for those eligible who purchase a plan through government exchanges and replace those subsidies with refundable tax credits based partially on age, which consumers can use to purchase health insurance.
Likely the most controversial and debated component of the bill, the AHCA would also allow states to opt-out of requiring insurance companies to cover all pre-existing conditions, as long as certain conditions are met, such as the state setting up high-risk pools for those high-risk consumers to join. Insurance companies could then charge more for pre-existing conditions if there is a gap in insurance coverage.
Democrats railed hard against the bill, saying it would jeopardize the health of millions of Americans and noting that the new version of the GOP bill had not yet been scored by the Congressional Budget Office.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Republicans during the debate Thursday, “You have every provision of this bill tattooed on your forehead. You will glow in the dark.”
The House bill will now move to the Senate, where it will have a 60-vote threshold to overcome debate, unless it meets requirements under the budget reconciliation rules, such as lowering the deficit. If it does meet those requirements, it would be subject to only a 51-vote threshold.
“There is a working group over here of Republicans with, you know, with a range of ideology that are working to see where we go with the bill when it comes across,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said, according to CNN. “And I think you’re going to see very responsible, deliberate action on it. People are going to want to improve it. I don’t see anyway he comes back in the form it comes. It’s not because I have any specific criticism of it.”