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GOP Leaders Think Health Plan Hits ‘Sweet Spot’

House leadership pushes forward, despite internal static

Speaker Paul D. Ryan and his lieutenants say this is the time to vote on legislation to dismantle the 2010 health law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Speaker Paul D. Ryan and his lieutenants say this is the time to vote on legislation to dismantle the 2010 health law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Despite increasingly loud calls to slow down the legislative push on health care, House Republican leaders are bullish that their legislation to partially dismantle the 2010 health care law and replace it with a plan that enjoys little stakeholder support is just right.

“Yes, there’s going to be questions on both sides of the aisle,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters Friday. “But sometimes when you have pushback on one side and the other side from a political spectrum, you might have found the sweet spot.”

One day after House committees completed all-nighter markups of the legislation without estimates from the Congressional Budget Office about the cost and how many people would lose health insurance, McCarthy pushed back against calls for change from the most conservative elements of his party.

The House Freedom Caucus and Republican Study Committee are pushing to change the effective repeal date for the Medicaid expansion in the bill to 2018, right in the middle of that year’s congressional midterm election cycle. The current bill would end the expansion in 2020.

“I think, right now, that would be very difficult to do,” the California Republican said.

McCarthy also said Republicans will shortly begin a third phase of the plan to replace the law — piggybacking on the partial repeal being considered now, as well as administrative actions. He said they plan to advance some bills through regular order on the floor the same week as they move the repeal and replace reconciliation measure that encompasses phase one. While some bills will move that same week, others will come later, he added. It’s unclear which legislation that would entail, and no hearings have been scheduled, as would befit regular order.

McCarthy’s optimism on the plan was mirrored by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who went on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to say the bill hits the right combination.

“We’re continuing to talk to members about the things they would like to see that we’re working with the White House on. But, at the same time, we had a very a strong vote both out of the Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has all of the different factions of our conference,” he said.

He also taunted Democrats. “Of course, every Democrat voted against it because the bill eviscerates Obamacare,” he said.

The two leaders are buffering the message from Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., who took time Thursday to walk through the plan and hammer home the point to any wavering Republicans that the time was nigh.

“This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare. The time is here, the time is now. This is the moment,” Ryan said.

Lindsey McPherson and Joe Williams contributed to this report.

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