ACHA

President Trump may have said he is ready to move on, but the House Freedom Caucus can't let health care go.

The same firebrand conservatives who helped derail the GOP's long-awaited legislation to repeal and replace key parts of the Affordable Care Act are now trying to breathe new life into the bill with a long shot effort to bring it back for a vote in May.

House Republicans emerged from a members-only meeting Tuesday morning to bullishly declare the health care legislative battle is not over.

"We promised that we would repeal and replace Obamacare, and that's exactly what we're going to do," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters after the meeting.

President Trump was downright low energy.

The look on his face, as he meandered through unscripted remarks Friday after the defeat of the Republican health care plan he supported, told the story. The unusually subdued Trump called the loss a "learning experience." Then he seemed to shrug it all off and said he was moving on.

This was to have been the week when President Trump turned his fledgling presidency around, setting a course for success and letting the wind fill its sails at last.

Instead, it became his worst week to date, ending with the ship becalmed and its crew in disarray. After other controversies had spoiled the weather, the Republicans proved unable to muster the votes to pass their repeal-and-replace Obamacare bill in the House. The president and Speaker Paul Ryan had to call off the vote scheduled on the floor — not once but twice.

Vice President Mike Pence traveled to West Virginia Saturday where he met with small business owners before delivering public remarks, which included some lines about repealing Barack Obama's health care law, a day after Republicans efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act went down in flames.

"West Virginia and President Trump, we all know the truth about this failed law, that every day Obamacare survives is another day that America suffers," Pence told a crowd gathered at a Charleston construction supply company.

Even as they lick their wounds from a failed Affordable Care Act repeal effort, Republican leaders in Washington are looking ahead to the next battle — over taxes.

"I would say that we will probably start going very, very strongly for the big tax cuts and tax reform," President Trump told reporters Friday. "That will be next."

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan agreed, though he conceded that the defeat on health care was a setback.

"This does make tax reform more difficult," Ryan said. "But it does not in any way make it impossible."

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

House Republicans scrapped a vote on their health care replacement plan on Friday after defections from both the right and center that made it clear the bill would not pass.

"Obamacare is the law of the land. It is going to remain the law of the land," House Speaker Paul Ryan admitted shortly after he pulled the bill. "We're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future. I don't know how long it's going to take us to replace this law."

Throughout the campaign, President Trump billed himself as a master negotiator who would make the "best deals" for the American people.

Former President Obama took a victory lap Thursday on seventh anniversary of his signature health care law even as Republicans had planned to formally begin the process of gutting it in celebration.

But now, it's the GOP replacement plan that remains on life support. Republicans postponed a planned evening vote in the House, denying them a symbolic chance to make good on their years-long promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Updated at 9:48 p.m. ET

The White House issued an ultimatum to House Republicans on Thursday: Vote for the current GOP health care replacement plan or leave the Affordable Care Act in place and suffer the political consequences.

After Surgery, Georgia Senator Could Miss Crucial Votes

Mar 23, 2017
David Goldman / AP Photo/File

Sen. Johnny Isakson is recuperating from his second back surgery this year at his Georgia home, complicating Republican leaders' plans as they count the votes for the GOP health care overhaul and a Supreme Court nominee.

Aides to the third-term Republican senator said Wednesday that Isakson is still awaiting his physician's approval to travel back to Washington.

Republicans will be tested today on the strength of party unity in the Trump era and their party's ability to deliver on the promises they've made to the voters that sent them here.

"This is our chance and this is our moment. It's a big moment," House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters earlier this week. "And I think our members are beginning to appreciate just what kind of a 'rendezvous with destiny' we have right here."

The Affordable Care Act replacement plan championed by President Trump would hurt low-income people in rural areas that voted heavily for the Republican last fall, according to an NPR analysis of data on proposed subsidy changes from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

For years, Republicans in Congress have promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, claiming that its requirement for nearly everyone to buy insurance or pay a fine is burdensome and costly, and it doesn't give people enough flexibility to get the coverage they need.

President Trump has developed a consistent tactic when he's criticized: say that someone else is worse.

Michael Botticelli served as President Obama's director of National Drug Control Policy, and pushed Congress to pass a funding measure last year making more money available for the treatment of opioid addiction.

Now he's concerned that the proposed Republican health plan will reduce access to health services for people with addiction.

The debate over how many people would lose health insurance under the Republican health care overhaul and its impact on the budget deficit obscures one of the major and most far-reaching effects of the proposal: sweeping changes to Medicaid.

A new report finds that the Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion over a decade but would also leave 24 million more Americans uninsured during that same period.

On Monday, as GOP leaders tried to rally Republican lawmakers to support their health care proposal, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released a report showing that the plan would lead to an estimated 14 million fewer people with health insurance by next year.

The Affordable Care Act changed women's health care in some big ways: It stopped insurance companies from charging women extra, forced insurers to cover maternity care and contraceptives and allowed many women to get those contraceptives (as well as a variety of preventive services, like Pap smears and mammograms) at zero cost.

Now Republicans have the opportunity to repeal that law, also known as Obamacare. But that doesn't mean all those things will go away. In fact, many will remain.

Many people are worried about how potential changes to the federal health law might affect them. But few are as concerned as those with pre-existing health conditions.

"This is the chance. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said the speaker, roving the stage with a wireless mic, gesturing at both the audience in front of him and the PowerPoint presentation behind him.

TED Talk? Late-night infomercial? Nope — it was House Speaker Paul Ryan, making a hard pitch for his health care plan after a week of loud conservative criticism.

Got questions about the GOP plan to overhaul federal health law? Join us on Twitter Thursday 12-1 p.m. ET for our #ACAchat. Kaiser's Julie Rovner, NPR's Alison Kodjak and health policy analysts of various political persuasions will be online discussing how the Republican plan could work, who wins and who loses. See you there!

After literally years of promises, House Republicans have a bill they say will "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act.

House Republicans' plan to replace the Affordable Care Act would make significant changes to the U.S. health insurance system. But that's just the beginning.

"There are three phases of this plan," Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told reporters this week. And the bill now being marked up in House committees is just the first step.