HAPPENING NOW: Obamacare replacement passes House

Update 2:17 p.m.: House gets to 216 votes to pass American Health Care Act, for a final tally of 217-213. Now it goes to the Senate.

Update 1:50 p.m.: House Speaker Paul Ryan said the House cannot fail to act with insurers pulling out of states including Iowa and Virginia.

“We will not falter,” Ryan said. “We will replace. Today is the day we’re going to do this.”

Original post: Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows predicted Thursday morning the GOP plan to overhaul Obamacare will pass later in the day “by a very narrow margin,” while opposing groups including AARP said it will make coverage unaffordable for millions.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows

The revised American Health Care Act has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, but Rep. Meadows, R-N.C., told CNN it will “drive premiums down” for many people.  The original plan would have pushed 24 million out of coverage, CBO projected, but Meadows said numbers in the revised bill could look “more attractive,” though the House is not waiting for them before voting.

Senior advocacy organization AARP warned before the vote that people with pre-existing conditions, including 3.1 million in Florida, could face additional costs of up to $25,000 or more a year in high-risk pools, based on past experience.

In addition, people 50 to 64 on lower incomes could pay up to $13,000 more each year in premiums and deductibles in what AARP officials call an age tax.

“These are unaffordable amounts,” AARP legislative policy director David Certner said in a conference call Thursday.

About 454,000 Floridians ages 50 to  64 enrolled and receiving tax credits in the Affordable  Care Act marketplace stand to see higher health-coverage premiums than they pay under current law, AARP officials have said. That’s more than any other state.

The bill would let states allow insurers to charge older and sicker people more and offer less comprehensive plans, potentially bringing down costs for healthier, younger and higher-income people.

Under the ACA, Florida receives the most money of any state, $5.2 billion, in federal subsidies to make premiums more affordable for lower-income consumers, the Kaiser Family Foundation calculated.

AARP officials said Thursday an additional $8 billion over five years for high-risk pools included in the latest version falls well short of a filling a need they say studies put at more than $100 billion.

On the floor, House Democrats blasted the original plan in March as a $1 trillion tax cut for corporations and the wealthy dressed up like a health care bill.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, speaking on the House floor Thursday, said, “Forcing the vote without a CBO score shows the Republicans are afraid of the facts.”

Trump said today he hopes for a “wonderful vote.”


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