House Republicans said health care reform is headed in the right direction, arguing the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) updated score of the House GOP’s Obamacare repeal legislation doesn’t reflect the bill’s benefits.
Republican lawmakers in the lower chamber opted to pass the legislation without a recalculated score in early-May, following weeks of negotiations and a botched attempt to pass the American Health Care Act. Congressional Republicans are hoping to repeal former President Barack Obama’s landmark health care legislation using the reconciliation process, which allows them to pass the reforms with a simple majority in the Senate. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan opted against sending the legislation to the upper chamber until the updated CBO report was released. He viewed the move as precaution in case the amended bill added to the deficit beyond 10 years, which would prevent a reconciliation vote.
Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, said he thinks the Senates rules have become outdated and argues they would likely would have been able to act on legislation faster if they didn’t have to deal with the upper chamber’s parliamentary hurdles.
“I guess that means we don’t have to vote on it again. It is sort of an astonishing thing that we’re just now being able to transfer that bill all because of these asinine, they call them arcane but asinine is the better terminology, for some of the Senate rules that prevent debate on the floor of the U.S. Senate,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The CBO report shows a slight decrease in the number of uninsured individuals and a deficit reduction of $119 billion — $32 billion less than the initial report — over the course of a decade.
House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said he thinks the bill is headed in the right direction, noting the Senate has already begun its work on rewriting parts of the legislation.
“Clearly, there’s a modest improvement in coverage, lower premiums going forward I think are important — complying and meeting our budget reconciliation I think is critical so we can take the next step,” he told reporters. “And again, this is all about making health care more affordable. Especially for those who are trapped in Obamacare now and those going forward. So, we’re continuing to make progress, and I hope the Senate continues to do more. We have to get it done.”
Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker said he doesn’t like to over-value the CBO’s projections, adding he’s hopeful the Senate will continue to improve upon the bill.
“So, is it a guide? It is. But again, without giving the talking points, they’ve been wrong before.” he told reporters. “We think it’s (the legislation) trending the right direction.”
House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers said she thinks the legislation will have a more positive impact on health care costs than the report indicates.
“The CBO report doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to the benefits of this bill, but we’re one step closer to keeping our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, which continues to fail,” she said in a statement.
While critics argue the bill could have a negative impact on individuals with pre-existing conditions, Walker said they took strides to ensure they would be covered.
“Well, I think that’s where our piece of legislation kicks in, to override that,” he said. “The only thing that we’ve allowed in the legislation is after 63 days of non-coverage the insurance companies can charge a one-time 30 percent — one year I should say — increases in the premiums, but you cannot deny coverage with preexisting conditions nor can you price gouge.“
Franks noted it won’t be easy for members of the upper chamber to come to a consensus, but he is hopeful the changes made to the measure will benefit the American people.
“I think there is going to be a valiant effort, and I believe once we get to the floor, that sometimes the people engaged and the senators begin to see the light on trying to make the best policy possible,” he said.