House Gears Up For Obamacare Repeal Vote Next Week

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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The lower chamber could vote on the House leadership’s Obamacare repeal bill as early as next Thursday, according to sources within the GOP.

The legislation is slated to be marked up in the House Committee on Rules Wednesday, where a number of changes to the bill’s text are expected.

A senior GOP aide noted that the framework of the initial legislation will remain in place, since the administration has publicly come out in support of the measure, but modifications are expected.

Pennsylvania Rep. Lou Barletta told reporters there are certain issues that need to be resolved for the bill to move forward, but he’s confident leadership will not call for a vote without adequate support.

“I think there is an understanding that people have some real concerns, not with the whole bill, not with the idea that Obamacare should stay in place, but with the intent to give people the best health-care that we can with ideas from both sides,” he said.

The GOP aide confirmed two significant changes are expected to the bill: states will be given the option of receiving a block grant in lieu if per capita caps, and language establishing optional work requirements for Medicaid will be put in place.

The changes come after conservatives voiced concerns over the legislation, particularly groups like the Republican Study Committee (RSC).

The powerful conservative group opted to get behind the legislation after the administration assured them their requests would be met.

House leadership is hopeful the RSC’s endorsement will lead to move conservatives, namely the House Freedom Caucus, to get behind the bill. But HFC Chairman Mark Meadows said he wasn’t swayed by the two changes, reiterating that he would like to see a more conservative bill. There are roughly 40 members who plan to vote against the measure in its current form, according to Meadows.

A handful of lawmakers said they would like to see a new Congressional Budget Office report on how the changes to the bill will impact the health care system and the economy.

It is unclear whether the CBO will re-score the updated legislation before the bill comes to the floor for a vote.

Supporters of the bill have repeatedly indicated they are not able to get all the desired replacement language in the reconciliation measure, but plan to move forward in phases, with a three-prong plan, which will include executive orders and additional legislation.

“This bill has to fall within the regulations and laws we’re dealing with, and it will,” California Rep. Darrell Issa said after the meeting.

At the GOP conference meeting Friday morning, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who was joined by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Seema Verma, assured members he is intent on unraveling Obamacare.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy also announced that he plans to introduce additional legislation to complete the Obamacare repeal and replacement plan as soon as next week.

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