Washington, D.C.

House health care bill is ‘us keeping our promises,’ Paul Ryan says

Top senators say legislation will be rewritten
House Speaker Paul Ryan following a House Republican caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 26, 2017.
House Speaker Paul Ryan following a House Republican caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 26, 2017.

Categories: News

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Sunday that criticism of the way the House passed its health care bill — no hearings were held on the final version, and it has yet to receive an evaluation from the Congressional Budget Office — was “kind of a bogus attack from the left.”

“This is a rescue mission” as “Obamacare is collapsing,” Ryan said on ABC’s “This Week.” “This is a crisis. We are trying to prevent this crisis.”

“We’re proud of this effort,” Ryan added, dismissing reports that some House Republicans had not fully read the bill. “It’s us keeping our promises.”

But top senators in his own party said the House’s legislation, which is widely unpopular among voters, would be rewritten and more carefully considered, a process that could take months.

Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, said her colleagues were “starting from scratch.”

“We’re going to draft our own bill,” Collins said on “This Week.” “And I’m convinced that we’re going to take the time to do it right.”

She and three other Senate Republicans in January introduced their own alternative to the Affordable Care Act that would preserve certain protections, including for those for people with pre-existing conditions. The House bill would allow states to seek waivers for many such provisions, and although it would set aside billions for “high-risk pools,” critics say care could still be unaffordable for those with pre-existing conditions.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., chairman of the Senate subcommittee on health and human services, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the Senate would work on its own version of the bill and examine a budget office analysis of it before moving toward a vote.

“This is the way legislation used to be passed,” he said.

Amid the volleys between the House and the Senate, White House officials said Sunday that the legislative process was moving along as it should. Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, who pushed hard to get a revised version of the health care bill through the House, said he had spoken to six Republicans who are part of a group tasked with writing the Senate’s version of the bill.

“Everyone is excited and ready to go to work and take the time necessary to look at the bill, make improvements where they need to be made, and then the bill will be brought back for conference,” Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“It’s up to the Senate, if there are improvements to be made, to make those improvements,” Priebus added. “I think that everyone is committed to getting this thing done and getting it done as soon as possible.”

Another administration official, Tom Price, the health and human services secretary, joined Ryan in defending the House bill, saying it would offer “a better way to cover an individual with pre-existing illnesses and injuries.”

He said it would do so “because it allows for every single person to get the access to the kind of coverage that they want,” not coverage “that their government forces them to buy.”

Asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” about hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid in the House measure, Price said Americans were tired of their tax dollars going to failing programs.

“The winners under Obamacare were the federal government and insurance companies,” he said. “The winners under the program that we provide and that we believe is the most appropriate will be patients and families and doctors.”

When asked about Republican governors worried about the Medicaid cuts, Price said the administration had “listened very intently and had wonderful meetings with Republican governors.”

But Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, said on CNN that the outcome in the House was “not great,” adding that he was worried about those who might lose their health coverage. A budget office analysis of a previous version of the House bill said millions would lose coverage.

“It is going to go to the Senate,” he said. “And I hope and pray they are going to write a much bigger bill.”

Democrats last week joined with an unusually simpatico group of hospitals, insurers and doctors’ groups that came out against the House Republican plan.

Sen. Joe Manchin III, a moderate West Virginia Democrat whose constituents voted heavily for President Donald Trump, said he “couldn’t believe” what was in the House’s health care bill.

“Every dynamic in every demography of my state gets absolutely slammed with this piece of legislation,” Manchin said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

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