The loss of Republican Missouri Rep. Billy Long’s vote on the American Health Care Act could spell problems for GOP House leaders, who are hoping to pass the revised Obamacare repeal legislation before they recess next week.
Leadership is looking to revive the legislation after fumbling their initial attempt in March when they pulled the bill due to a lack of consensus between members of different factions in Congress.
Supporters of the legislation hoped an amendment brokered between Tuesday Group Co-Chairman Tom MacArthur and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows would persuade enough hesitant members to get behind the bill. Despite the changes — which would allow states to waive out of a number of Obamacare regulations — GOP sources estimate they are short roughly 22 votes, with several yeses remaining shaky.
Long, a Tea Party member and adamant Trump supporter during the campaign, said he’s concerned the revisions will cause costs to skyrocket for those with pre-existing conditions. The Missouri Republican isn’t the only member to flip from a yes to a no — GOP Rep. Adam Coffman of Colorado told The Hill he has also retracted his support for the measure.
“I have always stated that one of the few good things about Obamacare is that people with pre-existing conditions would be covered,” Long said in a statement. “The MacArthur amendment strips away any guarantee that pre-existing conditions would be covered and affordable.”
Tuesday Group Co-Chairman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, who has been a no since the bill was first rolled out, said the amendment made the bill less palatable for moderates.
“It made it easier for the Freedom Caucus and the hard right to get them from no to yes and made it much harder for the center-right members to get to yes,” he told reporters. “And for those of us who are a no, it just reinforced our position since we believe it made the bill worse so we stayed nos. But for those who were a lean-yes or soft-yes, it has made their votes much harder.”
A number of members of the GOP whip team, including Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York and Kevin Yoder of Kansas are still contemplating whether they will vote for the measure.
GOP leadership in the House remain optimistic they will be able to make good on their campaign promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“I actually feel we’re in a very good place, I think you’ll be very proud of what we end up doing in the end,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters, adding he would “like to see Billy” on the bill.
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