Women activists voice their objections as House Republicans work on their long-awaited plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pivotal industry and consumer groups mounted intensifying opposition to the Republican health care bill as GOP leaders labored Wednesday to rally a divided party behind their high-stakes overhaul drive. Lawmakers cast Congress’ initial votes on the legislation as House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the proposal as “what good, conservative health care reform looks like.”

The American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and AARP, the nation’s largest advocacy group for older people, were arrayed against the GOP measure. Seven years ago their backing was instrumental in enacting President Barack Obama’s health care statute, which President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are intent on erasing.

The hospitals — major employers in many districts — wrote lawmakers complaining about the bill’s cuts in Medicaid and other programs and said more uninsured Americans seem likely, adding, “We ask Congress to protect our patients.” Groups representing public, children’s, Catholic and other hospitals also expressed opposition.

Early Wednesday, leaders began pushing the legislation through two committees — Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce — but as nighttime set in neither panel seemed near final approval.

GOP leaders faced rebellion within their own ranks, including from conservative lawmakers and outside conservative groups. Top Republicans knew if the upheaval should snowball and crush the legislation it would be a shattering defeat for Trump and the GOP, so leaders hoped passage by both House committees would give them momentum.

In words aimed at recalcitrant colleagues, Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters: “This is what good, conservative health care reform looks like. It is bold and it is long overdue, and it is us fulfilling our promises.” The last was a nod to campaign pledges by Trump and many GOP congressional candidates.

Outnumbered Democrats used the panels’ meetings for political messaging, futilely offering amendments aimed at preventing the bill from raising deficits, kicking people off coverage or boosting consumers’ out-of-pocket costs. They tried unsuccessfully to insert language pressuring President Donald Trump to release his income tax returns, and failed to prevent Republicans from restoring insurance companies’ tax deductions for executive salaries above $500,000 — a break Obama’s law killed.

There were signs of growing White House engagement, and perhaps progress.

Trump met at the White House late Wednesday with leaders of six conservative groups that have opposed the GOP legislation, and several voiced optimism afterward.

“I’m encouraged that the president indicated they’re pushing to make changes in the bill,” said David McIntosh, head of the Club for Growth, though he provided no specifics.

Underscoring Trump’s potential impact, Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., said of GOP holdouts, “A lot of them, they maybe haven’t felt the inertia that comes with Air Force One landing in their district.”

The legislation would defang Obama’s requirement that everyone buy insurance — a provision deeply disliked by Republicans — by repealing the tax fines imposed on those who don’t. That penalty has been a stick aimed at pressing healthy people to purchase policies. The bill would replace income-based subsidies Obama provided with tax credits based more on age, and insurers would charge higher premiums for customers who drop coverage for over two months

The extra billions Washington has sent states to expand the federal-state Medicaid program would begin ending in 2020, and spending on the entire program would be capped at per-patient limits. Around $600 billion in 10-year tax boosts that Obama’s statute imposed on wealthy Americans and others to finance his overhaul would be repealed. Insurers could charge older customers five times more than younger ones instead of the current 3-1 limit, but would still be required to include children up to age 26 in family policies, and they would be barred from imposing annual or lifetime benefit caps.

“We will answer President Trump’s call to action,” said Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, adding later, “Relief is on the way.”

Democrats said the Republicans would yank health coverage from many of the 20 million Americans who gained it under Obama’s statute, and drive up costs for others because the GOP tax breaks would be skimpier than existing subsidies. And they accused Republicans of hiding bad news by moving ahead without official estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on the bill’s cost to taxpayers and anticipated coverage.

“The bill sabotages the marketplaces where close to 10 million Americans today get coverage and starts a death spiral from which we will never recover,” said Ways and Means’ top Democrat, Richard Neal of Massachusetts.

On the Republican side, conservatives in particular were up in arms, saying the tax credits would be too expensive and the phase-out of Obama’s Medicaid expansion too slow. One conservative group, FreedomWorks, was launching digital and social media ads opposing the legislation, while others like Americans for Prosperity, backed by the wealthy Koch brothers, were working against the legislation.

Numerous GOP centrists and governors were also antagonistic, worried their states could lose Medicaid payments and face higher costs for hospitals having to treat growing numbers of uninsured people.


AP Congressional Correspondent Erica Werner and reporters Andrew Taylor, Kevin Freking, Mary Clare Jalonick and Ken Thomas contributed to this report.

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17 thoughts on “Medical, Seniors Organizations United Against Obamacare Repeal

  1. Honestly on said:

    President Obama left this country with a robust economy. Better than the two worthless cave n!@@ers bush and cheney gave him. The baboon breathe and lying neanderthal ape trump now says the job figures are real. These mayonnaise monkeys are a curse and a pestilence. They should have never been let out of the caves of Europe.

  2. Dr. Larry on said:

    The Stock Market is up 3 TRILLION $$$ in three months since the election, 300,000 jobs added, hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs are coming back and all with NO MAGIC WAND but a good sound economic/business stratedgy and future… Something the muslim/communist in chief Obamination was completely against.

    • Diane on said:

      The walls are caving in on this fake administration. Now I see why they’re rushing their healthcare bill through. They knw the trumpsters days are numbered. The job facts you stated are not bc of trump. 300,000 jobs were not created last month. If so, u have to give credit where it belongs, Obama was in office 6 Wks ago. I’ll give Obama credit for those jobs.

  3. Honestly on said:

    The demented cave n!@@ers in the white house are trying to pass a lie! The beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act will rise up in violent opposition before they let these nefarious cave apes take their lives. They should have never been let out of the caves of Europe.

  4. specialt757 on said:

    The redumblicans are so hateful, they care nothing about the American people, they just have to have it their way no matter how messed up it is, spiteful and jealous.

  5. Diane on said:

    Now the farce in Cheif said if his healthcare law fail, he’s going to blame it on the Dems. Really?? If the Dems sit back at allow that to happen, I’ll be done with them forever. They better stand up and stay strong and fight a good fight against these fools. The republicans really don’t believe in providing heathcare for ppl. They just believe in tax brks for the wealthy

  6. Chris on said:

    The AARP were paid shills to push Obamacare. If someone signed up through a link on the AARP website, they got a commission.

  7. Obviously, the Affordable Care Act has been beneficial to some folks.
    They are the ones who are now marching against the repeal of it.

    In a country that wastes billions of our taxpaying $$$ on dumb s–t–everyone should have
    access to AFFORDABLE HEALTH INSURANCE-with gov’t subsidies.

    The GOP are some cold blooded POS to want to make it more difficult and more expensive for the average person to have health coverage.

    • Chris on said:

      Beneficial to some? You mean the ones who aren’t paying a dime for it. Everyone else on it is seeing increases from 25% to 100% yearly. Don’t blame republicans for that. Obama and the democrats did not allow any input from republicans as they designed and implemented this failed piece of crap. Not one republican voted for it. They had no idea what was in it. Do you remember “Well you have to sign it to find out what’s in it.” Obamacare is on its deathbed and needs to be replaced.
      If Obamacare is so great, why are people forced to pay for it? Why was it necessary for Obama hire 12,000 IRS agents to enforce it? Why didn’t Obama hire more doctors and healthcare professionals?

  8. Diane on said:

    When those 18 million ppl lose their ins, btw, most of them are white, all hell will break lose. These ppl haven’t seen nothing yet. They want their country back, be careful what you ask for.

    • Chris on said:

      No one is going to lose their insurance. BTW, there were almost 6 million people who had insurance and happy with their coverage who were forced off of it because it didn’t meet the “standards’ of Obamacare. They had to pay double and triple what they were paying before.

  9. Diane on said:

    This country is in a mess. It starts at the top. This fake presidency is a travesty. You have an administration full of liars, from the paranoid prez, to the AG who perjured himself. Not to mention uncle Ben who doesn’t have s clue what the hell he’s talking about, or what he’s doing. You have the head of the education dept who doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing. An EPA dept who want to dirty the waters. And the list go on, and on. THE TRUTH SHALL SET US FREE!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Dr. Larry on said:

      Diane, unlike slavery, you are free to walk off the plantation. All it takes is a moderate level of education, the ability to think for yourself, and strength of will to denounce those on the plantation that will call you sell-out, Uncle Tom, etc… You can do it.

      • Diane on said:

        The walls are caving in on your prez. He’s days in office are numberd. All You idiots that voted for this con artis, You own him. I can’t wait for the day when he’s in front of the cameras, resigning.

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