KONFRONTASI - US Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have postponed a planned vote on legislation to repeal Obamacare as President Donald Trump struggles to gather support from members of his own Republican Party amid a wave of defections from the proposed replacement bill.
The vote, which was scheduled for Thursday, was delayed amid signs that the replacement legislation to eliminate former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement - the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare - was in deep trouble.
Trump had agreed to many of the demands that the most conservative House Republicans had made, including ending requirements that health insurance plans provide benefits in 10 broad categories, including maternity care, emergency services, mental health and wellness visits.
On Thursday, Trump met at the White House with some of the bill's strongest opponents - the Freedom Caucus - a congressional caucus consisting of conservative Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives.
Its members say the bill, known formally as the American Health Care Act, does not go far enough to repeal Obamacare.
“We’re certainly trying to get to ‘yes,’” said Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. “We’ve made very reasonable requests and we’re hopeful that those reasonable requests will be listened to and ultimately agreed to.”
Trump had agreed to many of the demands that the Freedom Caucus had made, including ending requirements that health insurance plans provide a basic set of benefits like emergency services, mental health, wellness visits and maternity care.
Protesters march towards the Federal Building during a "Save the Affordable Care Act" rally in Los Angeles, California on March 23, 2017. (AFP photo)
But it was not enough to secure the group’s votes. Meanwhile, more moderate House Republicans were walking away from the bill.
After all the negotiations, however, passage of the bill seemed more distant. Some lawmakers hesitated at the removal of health insurance and benefits their constituents depend on.
The changes that the Trump administration has made to Obamacare have alienated some Republicans who were already nervous about the bill.
Republican Party leaders appeared to be short of a majority as the crucial vote approached on Thursday, with moderate Republicans continuing to move away from the bill.
Representative Charlie Dent, a Republican from Pennsylvania, announced Wednesday night that he would oppose the bill.
“I believe this bill, in its current form, will lead to the loss of coverage and make insurance unaffordable for too many Americans, particularly for low- to moderate-income and older individuals,” Dent said.
Health care experts from across the political spectrum say that the House Republican health care bill was unworkable and suffered from fatal flaws and could lead to Americans dropping out of the health care market.
Experts agree that the bill fails to reach the objectives laid forth by Trump, which includes affordable coverage for everyone; lower deductibles and health care costs and better care.[PTV]