BY LINDSEY MCPHERSON AND ERIN MERSHON
House GOP leaders suggested Wednesday afternoon that a forthcoming amendment for an additional $8 billion to reduce coverage costs for individuals with pre-existing conditions would be the final tweak needed to their health overhaul bill.
Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker of North Carolina said leadership told him they would vote either Thursday or Friday on the health bill, but they were hoping for Thursday.
“They didn’t say they have the votes, they said … we’re either voting on it tomorrow afternoon or Friday. I think that part’s etched in stone,” he said.
While his word choice signaled the bill may now have the needed votes and could get to the floor this week, McHenry confirmed neither but did say the amendment was productive.
“We’ve got a lot of members that really like that idea,” he said.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy confirmed that the Upton amendment was the final offer.
Earlier Wednesday, Upton and Missouri’s Billy Long switched their positions from “no” on the bill to “yes.” They cited the amendment’s additional money to help offset costs for people who would be charged by insurance companies more for pre-existing conditions. Under current law, charging more for such people is illegal.
Asked if a vote on the bill Thursday is possible, McCarthy said, “Anything is possible.”
Several Republican members who have been “no” votes have not been swayed by the Upton move. They include Pennsylvania’s Ryan Costello, Patrick Meehan and Charlie Dent, New Jersey’s Frank LoBiondo, Leonard Lance and Christopher H. Smith , New York’s John Katko and Dan Donovan, North Carolina’s Walter B. Jones , Florida’s Ileana Ros-LehtinenCarlos Curbelo and Virginia’s Barbara Comstock.
One indication that GOP leaders might be getting closer is that Georgia’s Rob Woodall, a member of the Rules Committee, expects the committee to meet tonight, “before the sun goes down” on the health care bill.
Kerry Young, Sandhya Raman and Andrew Siddons contributed to this story