Here we go: New House GOP health-care bill on verge of failure as moderates balk

It’s not dead yet, notes the Hill, but it could flatline at any moment. This morning their whip count of 80+ key undecided Republicans had seven yays, 12 nays, and everyone else undecided. After hours of whipping by Ryan’s team, the current count stands at … 11 yays and 21 nays. They’ve lost ground and there’s no margin for further error. They can only afford 22 no votes from their own side, which means if just two of the remaining undecideds flip to no, it’s game over. There are 56 undecideds left.

It’s going down — bigly:

Those “no” votes include Reps. Patrick Meehan (Pa.), Ryan Costello (Pa.), Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.) and John Katko (N.Y.), all centrists who had reservations about the earlier ObamaCare repeal bill that was pulled from a floor vote because of a lack of GOP support…

Many vulnerable Republicans are running scared. One moderate Republican was overheard in a House cafeteria this week telling an aide: “If I vote for this healthcare bill, it will be the end of my career.”

Why would a bill that didn’t attract much moderate support in March attract more of that support in April now that it’s gotten … more conservative? Centrist Republicans can’t figure it out. Two Republican congressmen from Pennsylvania who are voting no this time specifically mentioned the new waivers that would let states abandon community rating for people with preexisting conditions as a reason for opposing it, as did the AMA. Some centrists are so nervous about that that they’ve moved from voting yes on the original bill last month to undecided on version 2.0:

More foreboding for House leaders, several centrist Republicans who backed earlier versions of the proposal, including Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), are now undecided on the current plan. Coffman said Thursday that if the vote on the measure were called today, “I’d vote no.” He said he’s still working through the impact of recent changes to the bill and has serious concerns about whether it does enough to protect coverage for people with preexisting conditions…

Whipping continued into Thursday, but by noon, insiders said the votes still weren’t there. Some mainstream and moderate Republicans stewed that the White House has rewarded what they see as bad behavior by the Freedom Caucus. After trying to work in good faith with leadership, the skeptics said they’re now being pressured to vote for a more conservative bill.

Makes sense if you’re a member of the House Freedom Caucus. You know the bill’s probably going nowhere in the House and certainly going nowhere in the Senate, but the new version gives you something you can vote for, which means you won’t bear the blame for blocking it in the House any longer. (How many Freedom Caucusers have been taunted with variations of “The Freedom Caucus saved ObamaCare!” since last month?) What I can’t understand is why Ryan’s leadership team would be whipping on the bill’s behalf, knowing what a conundrum it creates for the moderates — who are far and away more vulnerable next year in the midterms in their purple districts than the Freedom Caucus people are in their red ones. Ryan did a service for his caucus last month when he convinced Trump it’d be better to pull the bill from the House floor and spare endangered Republicans a tough vote than force them to cast their ballots in order to show Trump “who his enemies are” or whatever. But now, by pushing this new version of the bill, they’re forcing centrists to choose between declaring their opposition and annoying Republican voters and declaring their support and handing Democrats some ammo. Why would you bother touting a bill at all that seems less likely to pass than the previous version did, especially when it deepens the risk for your most at-risk members? If someone has to be left holding the hot potato, better that it be the Freedom Caucus since they’re in safe seats.

Here’s Ryan this afternoon trying to talk up high-risk pools and the state of play in the House. By the way, Trump’s approval rating on health care according to a Fox News poll, of all things, is now 35/56.

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David Strom 8:31 AM on October 05, 2022