Republicans, Democrats face tough choices over health care overhaul
Democrats are facing a tough choice over the fate of their health care reform bill as they face off against Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate.
| AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster The Hill | March 25, 2020 8:12 a.m.
EDT Democrats are battling a Republican-led Senate to pass their health reform bill, which faces stiff opposition from both chambers and could face an uncertain fate in the Senate.
The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on a version of the bill that would repeal and replace key elements of President Donald Trump’s signature health care law.
If the Senate fails to pass the bill, the House is expected later Wednesday to take up its own version, which could include its own changes to the legislation.
In the House, Democrats are pressing for the measure to be voted on as a single package, rather than as a series of separate bills.
The House is already on record as supporting the bill as a package that would replace the Affordable Care Act, but the White House has signaled its opposition.
While some Republicans have publicly voiced support for the legislation, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), some Democrats are wary of making a vote on the bill a priority.
On the House side, the plan has bipartisan support.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been a vocal opponent of the measure, but she’s been unable to garner enough support to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.
The White House’s push for the bill has prompted Democratic members to oppose the bill on the grounds that it’s too broad and would give the GOP too much power over the health care system.
That could make it more difficult for Democrats to win over their own rank-and-file supporters.
The president has also threatened to veto the bill.
The legislation is likely to face resistance in the upper chamber, as well.
Senate Republicans are currently divided on the legislation in a vote scheduled for March 24.
The Republican bill, dubbed the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would reduce the tax penalties for people who stay on their current health insurance plans.
It would also provide states with more flexibility to manage health insurance programs, including allowing people to buy coverage on the individual market, rather to be forced to buy it through their employer-sponsored plan.
The bill would also allow individuals to deduct the cost of prescription drugs from their tax bills.
Trump has said he’ll veto the legislation if it fails to make it to his desk.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R), both of whom voted against the legislation when it was unveiled last month, are also facing a difficult battle to pass legislation they both support.
Both are expected to oppose any attempt to overhaul the Affordable Health Care Act.
But the White Trump has already spoken out against the bill and said he’d veto it, a sentiment echoed by Senate Majority Leaders Mitch McConnell and Mitch McConnell Addison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP says they’re willing to consider ‘alternative facts’ on Trump, Iran, trade in case of Kavanaugh GOP leaders to send Trump, Pence on recess for midterms Rosenstein to testify: report GOP confident about winning in Kavanaugh showdown MORE (R).
A Senate panel has said it’s planning to hold a hearing on the GOP health bill this week.
The committee is also expected to hold public hearings on the legislative proposals next week, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Republicans have long argued that the measure will save money, but many Democrats, including Pelosi, are skeptical of the numbers in the legislation as well as the administration’s assurances that it will be better for the U.S. economy.
“This bill is not going to be better than Obamacare,” Pelosi said last week.
“It is going to do nothing to improve the American economy, let alone lower premiums or lower costs for anyone.”