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Health

In a Major Victory for America’s Poorest, House Fails to Even Vote on Healthcare Bill

The future of American healthcare is suddenly looking much brighter.

The Republican party scrapped plans today to vote on its healthcare bill after failing to secure enough votes to approve it.

President Donald Trump called The Washington Post shortly after 3:30 p.m. and told one of its reporters, “We pulled it,” as House Majority Leader Paul Ryan privately informed his party that there would be no vote.

The bill threatened to strip healthcare from 24 million Americans within a decade and roll back all sorts of guaranteed healthcare for things like maternity care, pediatric care, emergency services, prescription coverage, and mental health and addiction help. It would have devastated healthcare for the poor and elderly.

Read More: 24 Million People Could Lose Insurance Under GOP Healthcare Plan

“We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future," Ryan told reporters after the bill was pulled.

“We’ll end up with a truly great health-care bill after the Obamacare mess explodes,” Trump said to reporters in the Oval Office. Speaking to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, Trump also blamed Democrats for the bill's stunning loss, despite there being a GOP majority in both the House and the Senate. 

The Republican bill was deeply unpopular with Americans, with only 17% approval, and drew intense criticism for how it treated the poor and vulnerable.

Still, all week Republican leaders tried to get enough votes to push the bill through the House of Representatives by appealing to hard-line conservatives who wanted even more cuts to coverage.

In the end, there were enough hold-out “no” votes that Ryan met with Trump earlier Friday to inform the president there was not enough support for a legislative victory.

Trump told party members that this was their only shot at repealing and replacing Obamacare, and instructed party leaders to hold the vote today after they postponed it Thursday.

Read More: Republicans Just Voted to Repeal Obamacare In the Middle of the Night

Republicans have campaigned on repealing the Affordable Care Act since it was passed seven years ago, using the slogan “repeal and replace” on the campaign trail since Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s team came up with it in 2010. Trump used the phrase during the election cycle and after, promising he would deliver on it as soon as he became president.

When the Republicans were voted into power in all three branches of the US government in November, they finally had the opportunity to “repeal and replace,” and quickly pushed through legislation that would allow them to do it very quickly.

But as they began to craft their repeal and replace bill, the party found it did not have a singular, agreed-upon vision for the replacement. Leaders including Ryan, Health Secretary Tom Price, and Trump, along with members of the various factions of the House, like the Freedom Caucus and Tuesday Group, all had different ideas about what should be preserved in Obama’s plan and what should be cut.

Read More: Amidst Massive Famine, White House Ready to Cut $1 Billion in UN Funding

Republicans unveiled their “secret” plan on March 7 and it quickly passed two committees.  But then the Congressional Budget Office released its report estimating that it would leave  24 million without insurance within a decade. As the plan’s negative consequences became clear, its unpopularity fell, but legislators persisted in bringing it to a vote, adjusting language in the bill up until the time of the vote to try and get enough members to vote “yes.”

The bill was meant to reverse President Obama’s signature healthcare expansion program, the Affordable Care Act, which helped get more Americans health insurance than at any point in history (the US is one of a handful of Western countries without universal healthcare).

It is unclear whether the Republican party will mount another effort to repeal Obamacare, but for now, more Americans have healthcare than ever before, and it won’t be going away anytime soon.