House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday said he was confident that the GOP healthcare bill would quickly make its way through the Republican-controlled Senate.
In an interview with “Fox and Friends,” Ryan said that despite a stop-and-start process in the House, he expects the Republican healthcare bill, the American Health Care Act, to flow through the Senate.
“The legislation should not take that long,” Ryan said. “Hopefully it takes a month or two to get it through the Senate. Hopefully it takes a month or two because we need to give people the ability to plan. Insurers are pulling out very, very quickly, and we need to show the insurers that there is a better system coming.
Insurers in states like Iowa and Virginia have announced exits from some of the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance markets in recent weeks. They have cited financial losses and political uncertainty — specifically the unsure future of the AHCA and the possibility that key payments from the Trump administration could be cut off — as reasons for their exits.
Asked by the Fox hosts if the bill would be complete by the fall, Ryan responded affirmatively, but cautioned it could take a few years to implement the legislation.
But while Ryan predicted a quick turnaround on the legislation, Republicans in the Senate are in the process of ironing out a number of thorny issues.
For one, Senate GOP leaders have decided to write their own version of the healthcare bill instead of trying to pass the version that the House GOP passed. Also, Republicans could only afford to lose two votes in the Senate to get the bill through and must satisfy a wide array of viewpoints within the caucus.
Ryan acknowledged the wide range of views among the Senate Republicans and called it a strength rather than a hurdle. Ryan also addressed some Republican House members’ admissions that they did not read the AHCA in its entirety, often leaving it up to staff members.
“Our bill was online for a couple of months, the last amendment was a three-page amendment,” Ryan said. “Obamacare was over 2,000 pages, out bill is less than 200 pages. Ours was posted only for over a month, any America, anyone in the world could read this bill.”
The original version of the AHCA text was posted on March 24, but most Democratic criticism has stemmed from what they say is lack of understanding about later additions to the bill. One key amendment — which authorised $US8 billion in funding for state healthcare programs — was released to the public less than 24 hours before the bill was eventually passed. The Congressional Budget Office’s score assessing the bill’s effects also was not released prior to its passage.
Ryan dismissed the idea that members and the public not getting to fully understand the bill as “the left trying to throw sand in the gears” of repealing and replacing Obamacare.
Watch Ryan’s comments below:
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