House Speaker Paul Ryan is within one or two votes of getting the required votes needed to pass the AHCA — effectively the same Obamacare repeal package that the House Freedom Caucus shot down last month — and House leadership is literally doing everything they can to get votes whipped into line.
How are these votes being whipped? $8 billion to cover pre-existing conditions is being placed on the table to get one single, solitary vote, per the New York Times:
The focus of that scramble is Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, the former chairman of one of the House committees that drafted the American Health Care Act, who has a long history of negotiating with Democrats on large health care measures, like the new 21st Century Cures Act. Mr. Upton said on Tuesday that the latest version of the health care bill “torpedoes” protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions and had asked for at least $8 billion to supplement funds already in the bill to help state governments struggling with hard-to-insure populations.
The extra spending could anger the most conservative members of the House, who had recently come around to supporting the bill. Last-minute spending increases and special provisions in 2010 to win over Senate Democrats to the Affordable Care Act had stoked outrage among conservatives who fumed at “the Cornhusker kickback” and the “Louisiana Purchase.”
Of course, this change is far more serious than the middling alterations that brought some members of the House Freedom Caucus back into the fold — a pretense rather than a reason to come back home.
Still, the AHCA remains effectively unchanged from what was nearly voted down in March before Speaker Ryan pulled it back… at least, until $8 billion sweeteners are added to make the bill more palatable to the House moderates.
…at least, before the bill makes its way to the U.S. Senate, where it will be moderated further before sent back for reconciliation.