The U.S. House of Representatives shelved a vote scheduled for Friday afternoon to bury Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare and replace with President Donald Trump’s American Health Care Act.
News reports said the Republican-dominated lower house shelved the vote because the party couldn’t find the votes needed to send it on to the Senate.
The House vote was first set for Thursday, scrapped, rescheduled for Friday and scrapped again following a tumultuous 24 hours that saw President Donald Trump and his party mount a final push to get the replacement package for the Affordable Care Act through the lower chamber.
In the end, though, hesitant conservatives could not talk themselves into voting for the AHCA.
“This bill is dead,” one GOP lawmaker said.
“We came up short,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said at a news conference after the vote was cancelled. “I won’t sugarcoat this — this is a disappointing day for us.”
Earlier, Ryan visited Trump at the White House to assess the situation and the president told him to pull the proposal. Several Republicans have said the president is finished negotiating on the matter and might now just leave the ACA on the books as the healthcare law of the land.
Trump, Ryan and other GOP leaders must now decide what to do about former President Barack Obama’s signature law, which the party has pledged to repeal since the day it was enacted seven years ago.
“We just pulled it,” Trump told Washington Post reporter Robert Costa. “I don’t blame Paul [Ryan].”
“When it explodes they [Democrats will] come to us and we make one beautiful deal,” the president added.
GOP aides told The Washington Post and The New York Times earlier that Ryan told Trump the House didn’t have the necessary 215 votes to pass the AHCA.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said during his daily press briefing earlier that the vote would go forth.
“We’re gonna continue to work with the speaker and the leadership there to see where the votes are and we’re getting closer and closer,” he said.
The vote was set for late afternoon Friday after four hours of floor debate. Under House rules, amendments cannot be added to the bill once it reaches the floor, meaning the language in the final draft couldn’t be changed unless the vote was canceled.
It remains possible that another vote will be scheduled and another push for the required votes will happen, but that’s up to GOP leadership and Trump.
Friday, Republicans walked away from the bill when the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released an updated report saying amendments drafted to earn GOP support would cost billions more without increasing coverage. Hardline conservatives balked at the cost, while moderates said the bill wouldn’t improve access to care or reduce insurance premiums.
The CBO said the AHCA’s amendments would decrease the federal deficit by $150 billion in a decade. The original bill was projected to cut the deficit by $337 billion. The CBO said the amendments would also not increase coverage, meaning there would still be 24 million fewer people with healthcare by 2026 if signed into law.
The CBO also said the amended AHCA’s impact on health insurance premiums would be about the same as the original version. The CBO estimated average premiums for individual plans would increase up to 20 percent over the next two years, but by 2026, premiums would be 10 percent lower than they would be under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
In short, the CBO said the AHCA’s amendments did little other than cost the federal government more money.
“CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 1628, with the proposed amendments, would save $186 billion less over that period,” the CBO said in a statement.
“The legislation’s impact on health insurance premiums would be approximately the same as estimated for the previous version.”