WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — With 217 yea votes, the Republican-led House has passed the revised GOP health care bill.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, 42 days after pulling the bill back for lack of votes, the revamped Republican ‘American Health Care Act’ squeaked through the House of Representatives with just one vote to spare.
The bill represents the GOP’s attempt to fulfill a pledge to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, a key campaign promise for President Donald Trump.
Five local Republicans — Dan Donovan and John Katko of New York, and Lance Lobiando and Chris Smith of New Jersey all voted no.
Thursday’s vote sends the measure to the Senate. Many senators consider the House bill too harsh and it’s expected to undergo substantial changes.
President Donald Trump touted passage of the bill in the House at a White House event.
“As far as I’m concerned, your premiums are going to start to come down. We’re gonna get this passed through the Senate, I feel so confident,” Trump said. “This is a great plan. I actually think it will get even better. And this is, make no mistake, this is a repeal and replace of Obamacare, make no mistake about it.”
“Premiums will be coming down. Deductibles will be coming down. Most importantly, it’s a great plan,” Trump said. “What we have is something very, very incredibly well crafted.”
“This has brought the Republican party together,” Trump said. “We’re going to get this finished.”
“It really was a collaborative, consensus-driven process,”said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. “Today was a big day, but it is just one step in this process. An important step. We still have a lot of work to do to get this signed into law. And I know our friends over in the Senate are eager to get to work. They are. We’re going to see that work through. You know why we’re going to see this work through? Because the issues are just too important. The stakes are just too high. The problems facing American families are real, and the problems facing American families as a result of Obamacare are just too dire and too urgent.”
The House measure collapsed in March due to opposition by conservative and moderate GOP lawmakers.
House leaders abandoned another attempt to pass the bill last week after support was lacking.
Leaders finally rounded up enough support after a late amendment added money aimed at helping seriously ill patients afford their medical costs.
The legislation would ease that statute’s insurance coverage requirements, cut Medicaid and erase taxes the law imposes on higher-earning people and health industry companies.
“Obamacare is failing. We have a failing health care,” Trump added at an event in New York City on Friday night. “I shouldn’t say this to our great gentleman and my friend from Australia, because you have better health care than we do.”
The bill keeps the popular Obamacare provision allowing children to stay on their parent’s policies until age 26, but it allows states to change pre-existing condition coverage.
That means millions of people with health problems could pay dramatically more for coverage. Republicans are offering $8 billion to help those people pay higher premiums.
New Jersey Democrat Bill Pascrell said that’s far from enough.
“For a New Jerseyan with asthma, this will mean a $4,340 premium surcharge,” he said. “For autism, $5,510. The list goes on and on.”
States can only charge higher rates for those conditions if they set up high risk pools to help with costs.
Major interests groups, including AARP, have come out against the GOP bill.
But Republicans say this latest version can succeed.
“What this amendment would do is provide additional funds directly into high-risk pools to be spent for people that might otherwise lose their coverage,” Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., said.
However, Speaker Ryan painted a dire picture of the future under Obamacare.
“Just this week we learned of another state, Iowa, where the last remaining health care plan is pulling out of 94 of their 99 counties, leaving most of their citizens with no plans on the Obama market at all,” he said.
Hard-liners in the House, though, could resist any additional spending and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer D-N.Y., says a repeal is still a tough sell in the Senate.
“Forget about repeal and work with us on improving ACA,” he said. “We’re willing to do that but the other side is so locked into repeal, that they’re tying themselves in a knot.”
And as WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday labeled the GOP health care bill “plainly cruel and inhumane.”
De Blasio said if it were to become law, the measure would take away health care.
“People will go sick without the care they need. People will go bankrupt. Families will go bankrupt, because they won’t be able to afford their health care, and ultimately people will die,” de Blasio said. “It’s as simple as that, and it’s got to be stopped.”
Democrats are so convinced that the bill is so unpopular that the GOP will pay in the 2018 midterms.
“You will be held accountable for the cruel and unusual punishment that you have decided to inflict ont he American people,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-Brooklyn, said.
The vote was a face saving victory for President Trump and House Republicans.
Even many Republicans have acknowledged that the bill will never get through the Senate in its current form. They’re counting on the Senate to improve the bill over the next weeks and months.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)