House Republicans on Thursday narrowly approved a sweeping health care bill aimed at fulfilling their campaign promise to upend ObamaCare, after bringing out the legislative defibrillators to resuscitate a package that had flatlined on the floor not six weeks earlier.
The revised American Health Care Act passed on a 217-213 vote.
The passage marked Republicans’ biggest step yet toward replacing the Affordable Care Act. The bill heads next to the Senate, however, where it faces an uncertain fate.
All Democrats voted against the bill on the House floor Thursday afternoon, warning it would jeopardize coverage; 20 Republicans voted no.
“A lot of us have been waiting seven years to cast this vote,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday.
Capping a fiery debate mo ments before the vote, Ryan appealed to colleagues to move beyond ObamaCare, which he called a “collapsing law” and “failed experiment.” Citing the situation in Iowa, where the last statewide insurer is threatening to leave, Ryan said: “This is a crisis. … What protection is ObamaCare if there is no health care plan to purchase in your state?”
Health Secretary Tom Price told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” earlier Thursday that he expects the Senate to ensure the best-possible bill emerges and rejected criticism that the GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act would lead to reduced coverage.
“What we want to do is have a seamless system, not pull the rug out from anybody,” Price said, claiming the proposal would ensure people with pre-existing conditions remain covered.
That issue is a major point of contention.