House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday defended the House GOP leadership’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, calling the overhaul of the healthcare system an “act of mercy” and guaranteeing it would have enough votes to pass the House.
Ryan said the legislation, called the American Health Care Act (AHCA), fulfilled Republican promises to repeal and replace Obamacare and would help to unburden average Americans from high healthcare costs.
“If we did nothing the law would collapse, and leave everybody without affordable healthcare,” Ryan said at a press conference with other House GOP leaders. “We are doing an act of mercy by repealing this law and replacing it with patient-centered healthcare reforms.”
Ryan also said that the ACA was “collapsing” on its own, despite relatively stable enrollment numbers in the individual insurance exchanges over the past few years.
The speaker claimed the bill was being progressed transparently, as opposed to the ACA, which he said was “jammed through to an unsuspecting country.” The new plan, however, has not yet received a score from the Congressional Budget Office to assess its budgetary or coverage effects.
Ryan said he plans to have the bill for a floor vote in two weeks. By comparison, Timothy Jost — a professor of health policy at Washington University in St. Louis who favours the Affordable Care Act — documented that the House had 79 hearings on the ACA over a year, heard from 181 witnesses during that time span, and added 121 amendments to the law.
The press conference occurred shortly after members of the influential House Freedom Caucus and conservative senators held an event attacking the AHCA for not going far enough in its repeal. Despite the pushback, Ryan said that he would have the 218 votes needed pass the bill.
“When this thing comes to the floor, we’ll have 218,” said Ryan. “I can guarantee you that.”
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