Republicans gathered for a last-minute pow-wow to buck up colleagues as they prepared to take a vote to remake health insurance for millions of Americans. If recent history is a guide, it’s a vote that will be career-changing — and perhaps career-ending — for many of the lawmakers who take it.
“I’ll take around 2,000 votes this Congress. Most of them will be forgotten,” Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) said late Wednesday. “This is not one of those votes. This vote marks the beginning of the end of Obamacare as we know it.”
GOP leadership during their closed-door conference meeting Thursday pointed out that the last insurance company on the Iowa exchange just withdrew its participation this week, leaving thousands of Americans with no choice for insurance. They pointed to Aetna’s withdrawal from the Virginia exchange, announced Tuesday. And they listed assorted premium increases on exchanges across the country, including one from a mega insurance company on the Maryland exchange.
“Inaction is the worst thing we can do. There are people out there at risk of not having any coverage,” Mast said as he exited the meeting. “If there are no providers out there, then people with pre-existing conditions absolutely aren’t covered. So this is the right thing to do.”
The move to vote without a CBO assessment comes despite years of scolding attack ads from Republicans accusing Democrats of ramming through Obamacare without understanding its impacts. The CBO scored the Affordable Care Act before it was voted on. An assessment of an earlier version of the AHCA estimated that as many as 24 million more people could go without coverage under the AHCA.
A large number of medical groups and health care advocates lined up to fight the latest version of the GOP proposal, including the American Medical Association, the AARP and the American Cancer Society, who said it failed to protect people with preexisting conditions.
The vote will be particularly wrenching for Republicans who reside in districts won in November by Hillary Clinton. Members like Issa and Curbelo, Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) and Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) are still publicly undecided on the measure.
“Undecided and still reviewing changes,” Issa wrote in a late Wednesday tweet. “Always like to actually read legislation and review its impact before taking a position!”