On Monday, the House Republican caucus unveiled their long awaited health reform plan that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill, titled the American Health Care Act (AHCA), subsequently passed the two primary House committees of jurisdiction. The House Energy & Commerce Committee and the House Ways & Means Committee held marathon hearings on Wednesday and Thursday, with the former lasting more than 27 hours while they considered amendments offered by Democrats (none of which were accepted). The vote approving the bill out of committee fell along party lines, with House Republicans voting unanimously in favor of the bill and every Democratic member opposing it.
Next week, we expect the bill to have a similar markup hearing in the House Budget committee, paving the way for the legislation to be introduced for a floor vote by the full House before the end of the month. On Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected to release its score assessing the impact of the AHCA on the healthcare system, and it is expected to show a loss of health coverage reaching as many as 15 million individuals.
The Conservative House Freedom Caucus, which famously pushed Speaker Boehner out of office, has continued to push for a provision that would halt state Medicaid expansion by the end of this year. That provision would make it even more difficult for the AHCA to pass the Senate, where Republican Senators from Medicaid expansion states have said that provision would be a non-starter. With the bill expected to face a close vote in the Senate, the slim two-vote Republican majority means that only two Senators can defect.
Following the expected House vote before the end of the month, the Senate will likely try to bring it up for a vote in the first half of April, before Congress breaks for Easter recess.