No repeal of Obamacare as GOP leaders pull bill, Utah delegates respond

FIle photo: House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., center, standing with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., right, and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., left, speaks during a news conference on the American Health Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 7, 2017 | AP Photo/Susan Walsh, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A bill meant to fulfill congressional Republican’s long-standing promise to replace and repeal the Affordable Care Act, often called “Obamacare,” was pulled by President Donald Trump and GOP leaders Friday when it became apparent the bill would not survive the House floor.

Democrats said Americans can “breathe a sigh of relief.”

Trump said Obama’s law was imploding “and soon will explode.”

Thwarted by two factions of fellow Republicans, from the center and far right, House Speaker Paul Ryan said President Barack Obama’s health care law, the GOP’s No. 1 target in the new Trump administration, will remain in place “for the foreseeable future.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., leaves the White House in Washington after meeting with President Donald Trump, Washington, D.C., March 24, 2017 | AP Photo/Evan Vucci, St. George News

It was a stunning defeat for the new president after he had demanded House Republicans delay no longer and vote on the legislation Friday, pass or fail.

The bill was withdrawn just minutes before the House vote was to occur, and lawmakers said there were no plans to revisit the issue.

Republicans will try to move ahead on other agenda items, including overhauling the tax code, though the failure on the health bill can only make whatever comes next immeasurably harder.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, praised Speaker Paul Ryan’s efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in a statement Friday while also outlining pending GOP priorities.

“I commend Speaker Ryan’s efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare,” Hatch said. “Moving forward, we will continue to look for ways to protect American families from the law’s harmful provisions while also pursuing opportunities to improve the health of the economy through pro-growth initiatives such as tax reform and implementing a strong trade agenda.”

Hatch’s counterpart, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, was happy to see the bill pulled. He and other like-minded senators voiced their opposition to the bill the same day it was rolled out earlier this month.

“The decision to pull the bill was a sound commonsense one. We can now begin the hard and necessary process to get this right,” Lee said. “…The reality is that the current House bill was not ready for the House floor and certainly not ready for the Senate. We need an open, transparent, and deliberate process. The stakes for all Americans are simply too high.”

Trump pinned the blame on Democrats.

With no Democrat support we couldn’t quite get there,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. “We learned about loyalty, we learned a lot about the vote-getting process.”

The Obama law was approved in 2010 with no Republican votes.

“We worked very hard to bring the American people better healthcare options and I’m very disappointed in this outcome,” Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said in a statement Friday.

Stewart spoke to St. George News Thursday night and said that if the bill failed the next day, he wasn’t sure how the new presidency will be able to moves ahead.

“President Trump has made it clear over and over again this last week that he is satisfied with where the bill is now and a vote against this is a vote against Trump frankly,” Stewart said Thursday.

If this fails … I don’t know how the Trump presidency moves forward. So we cannot hand our president a defeat on this, we just can’t. And besides this bill will help people,” He said. “It’s so much better than Obamacare and we have a responsibility to help these people if we can and this is what that bill does.”

President Donald Trump speaks about the health care overhaul bill in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. The president says he would be willing to reopen negotiations for a health care bill with Democrats if the Affordable Care Act fails, Washington, D.C., March 24, 2017 | AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, St. George News

As has been reported, the next day did not prove kind to the potential Obamacare replacement.

“We worked very hard to bring the American people better healthcare options and I’m very disappointed in this outcome,” Stewart said in a statement Friday.

Other members of Utah’s Congressional delegation were also disappointed by Friday’s outcome.

“Obamacare is in a death spiral and desperately needs to be repealed,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz said. “Unfortunately, today we couldn’t come to a consensus on what that plan should look like. But we need to get there. The status quo is not sustainable. People still need access to affordable healthcare that Obamacare does not provide.”

Rep. Mia Love said the opportunity to provide the American people with better health care “has passed.”

“I worked with the President and the House leadership to make the bill the best it could be for Utah families and small business,” Love said Friday. “This was a great opportunity to offer Utahns access to better healthcare alternatives, lower premiums, to remove federal red tape and give states flexibility to design the programs for our residents. I will continue to work to ensure Americans have the best healthcare available another way.”

The GOP bill would have eliminated the Obama statute’s unpopular fines on people who do not obtain coverage and would also have removed the subsidies for those who purchase insurance.

Republican tax credits would have been based on age, not income like Obama’s, and the tax boosts Obama imposed on higher-earning people and health care companies would have been repealed.

The bill would have ended Obama’s Medicaid expansion and trimmed future federal financing for the federal-state program, letting states impose work requirements on some of the 70 million beneficiaries.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the Republican bill would have resulted in 24 million additional uninsured people in a decade and lead to higher out-of-pocket medical costs for many lower-income and people just shy of age 65 when they would become eligible for Medicare.

The bill would have also blocked federal payments for a year to Planned Parenthood.

Cedar City News reporter Tracie Sullivan and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.


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  • Allie March 24, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    Thankfully there are enough people left in the House of Rep. with common sense. The R’s had 6, SIX years to come up with a product that would work better. But did they? NOOOOOOO. Instead, they just tried to repeal, with no plan of a replacement until Jan. 2017. The current one is not near perfect, but, if the R’s would have used common sense and tried to fix the problems properly during those 6 years, they could have come out ahead. Instead, they look like the jerks they really are. Trying to pass something that would have been worse that what is in place. Are these people in DC ( the R’s and D’s) REALLY looking out for us?? Me thinks not.

  • utahdiablo March 24, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    This is a non issue for Trump….Obama was in office a full two years before he passed Obamacare with zero Republicans, and Nancy Pelosi telling we the people “We have to pass the bill first before we can know what’s in the bill” remember that one?….so 63 days as President?….The Trump Train hasn’t even started taking on steam..

    • Chris March 25, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      ” in office a full two years before he passed Obamacare ” Wrong, as usual. Obamacare passed in March 2010, and Obama took office in January of 2009. Weren’t much at math in school, were you diablo?

  • comments March 25, 2017 at 12:22 am

    I thought ‘the donald’ might bring some new ideas to DC, but it seems that he’s already lost whatever intent he may have had to change things up (I was gonna say “lost his oomph” ), and he’ll just be going along with whatever tired old backward agendas the GOP neo-cons cook up. It’s looking like we got another buffoon in the white house. He can add ‘I was president’ to his narcissistic egomaniacal list of ‘accomplishments’. I think that was mostly his intent all along.

    • comments March 25, 2017 at 12:25 am

      Putting the sociopathic piece of human excrement known as Paul Ryan in charge of anything–really does tell the whole story.

  • Not_So_Much March 25, 2017 at 8:08 am

    Medicare and Medicaid are the two existing federal programs that if DC really thinks they need more, adjustments could be made. The government should not, can not, take care of everyone from cradle to grave. Return to a Constitutional government and each state could decide what is best for them using much of the money now sent off to DC. Big government IS the problem.

    • comments March 25, 2017 at 11:12 am

      Naive is what you are. I’m thankful that the feds have power over our corrupt greedy utah politicians. Can’t hardly imagine how backward this state would become if it became the sole domain of state and local control. Maybe ur new and not familiar with utah’s politicians. otherwise, a new name for u — Not_So_Smart

  • Sapphire March 25, 2017 at 10:53 am

    It is discouraging that our Congress, who makes the laws, doesn’t have the ability to make a decent health care plan when most civilized countries do. The democrats hurriedly passed Obamacare that was so complicated and long and full of pork that no one even bothered to read it before it passed. Now we are stuck with huge premiums and useless healthcare with deductibles and co-pays too large to use. Paul Ryan who has made no secret of his desire to gut Medicare and Social Security was put in charge of helping the poor, disabled and elderly. He has no idea how or desire to put in place care for anyone who doesn’t have the money to pay for health care that costs more than many people make in a month.

    • comments March 25, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      That actually is the root of the problem is cost. Why does medical care in the US cost so much more than basically every other country in the world. The short answer is greed. The gov’t should reign in the greed of for-profit healthcare. But in the US we’ve got a system where the gov’t actively places money in the hand of for-profit healthcare. It’s beyond a free-market system in the way that the gov’t actively enables the greed of the for-profit healthcare industry. It all has to do with the way money flows around in our political system that it’s able to operate like that. Anything from doctor visits to hospitals to surgery to RX meds to insurance–it’s all based on a broken system that operates solely on greed for profits. it’s a very broken and wasteful system.

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