House Speaker Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has dismissed criticisms of the approach by GOP lawmakers to the American Health Care Act, asserting that passing the legislation before it could be fully evaluated was their way of fulfilling years of campaign pledges. Ryan's comments arrive as Senate Republicans indicate that they will ignore the AHCA and create their own health care bill.
On May 7, Ryan addressed criticism that he and and his GOP colleagues had brought up the AHCA for a vote before its potential impact could be scored by the Congressional Budget Office.
"This is kind of a bogus attack from the left," Ryan told ABC News, citing how the CBO had already scored the bill twice.
The CBO had given a score for the AHCA, estimating that its passage would result in 24 million fewer Americans having access to health insurance by 20206 than if the Affordable Care Act, commonly called "Obamacare," were kept in placed as the U.S. health care system. Since that score, the AHCA underwent several major amendments, including a provision that would allow states to waive basic protections mandated under the ACA.
On May 4, the House brought the revised AHCA up for a floor vote before it could receive a CBO score. The chamber passed the health care bill by a vote of 217 to 213, receiving no Democratic support and 20 GOP defections, according to The Washington Post.
House Minority Leader Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California accused her GOP colleagues of trying to force through an unpopular bill before the public could evaluate its impact.
"They couldn't pass their bill because it was that bad, [so] they moved further away from the American people by gutting key protections... Forcing a vote without a CBO score shows that the Republicans are afraid of the facts," Pelosi said shortly before the floor vote, according to Business Insider. "They're afraid of learning the full consequences of their plan to push Americans with preexisting conditions into the cold."
Ryan dismissed the impact of the amendments and pointed out that he and his colleagues had been transparent about the legislation by posting its original version two months before its passage.
"This is a rescue mission," Ryan said, asserting that the health care system is imploding under the ACA. "This is a crisis. We are trying to prevent this crisis... It's us keeping our promises."
While Ryan described the House process as transparent, several GOP lawmakers revealed that they did not have time to read the full bill before voting on it.
"Let's put it this way: People in my office have read all the parts of the bill," Republican Rep. Thomas Garrett of Virginia told MSNBC on May 4. "I don't think any individual has read the whole bill, but that's why we have staff."
While Ryan asserted that House Republicans had fulfilled their promise to repeal the ACA, Senate Republicans have already signaled that they will scrap the bill altogether and vote on their own health care proposal.
"The safest thing to say is there will be a Senate bill, but it will look at what the House has done and see how much of that we can incorporate in a product that works for us in reconciliation," Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri told the Washington Examiner.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has stated that the AHCA will not even be considered in the chamber.
"Well, first of all, the House bill is not going to come before us," Collins said. "The Senate is starting from scratch. We're going to draft our own bill. And I'm convinced that we're going to take the time to do it right."