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House Freedom Caucus will support Obamacare replacement if ‘Essential Benefits’ are gone
The ‘Essential Health Benefits’ are exactly what they sound like, and some Republicans want them gone.
In what’s set to be a serious political showdown, Congress is scheduled to vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and, as it stands, there are two groups who could strike the bill down.
All Democrats are expected to vote against the bill, which would replace the Affordable Care Act put in place by former President Barack Obama. This normally wouldn’t be a problem for advocates of the bill, like House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), who can afford up to 22 Republicans defecting.
However, as of Wednesday night, there were 27 Republicans who were moving to vote against it, according to NBC.
A vote on the AHCA was originally slated for Thursday night, but according to sources, has been delayed until at least Friday.
While the Democrat opposition fear the AHCA is too radical, the far right group of conservatives, backed by the House Freedom Caucus, are threatening to vote down the bill because they believe it doesn’t go far enough.
On Wednesday night and Thursday morning, GOP leaders and the White House were speaking with members of the House Freedom Caucus, in the hope that some compromise might win their support before Thursday’s vote.
The Freedom Caucus were interested in a possible deal to that effect wherein House leaders would amend the bill so that it would also end a key ACA provision known as ‘Essential Health Benefits.’
These benefits include maternity and newborn care, as well as emergency room visits, addiction treatment, prescription drugs, preventive care, and pediatric services.
Conservatives believe that by forcing all consumers to have these essential benefits in their plans, it prevents choice and drives premiums up.
Critics are claiming that this dangerous amendment would disproportionately impact women:
This policy is going to murder poor women. pic.twitter.com/pFDORT2yBT
— Kelly Weill (@KELLYWEILL) March 23, 2017
Many are also up in arms about a new possible Medicaid provision, that would require women on Medicaid to go back to work within eight weeks, or possibly lose their benefits.
Disgusting: The AHCA now has a clause that allows states to revoke Medicaid if a women hasn't gotten a job 8 weeks after giving birth!
— National NOW (@NationalNOW) March 22, 2017
Ryan has not yet given into the Freedom Caucus’ amendment, but as the eleventh hour fast approaches the temptation to secure the AHCA’s passage could win through.
The President and House Republicans are giving the bill one last serious push, in a bid to win enough support.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2017
According to Sean Spicer’s press conference today, Trump met with 30 members of the House Freedom Caucus Thursday morning in an effort to persuade them and that they “walked out” with more members supporting the bill and that is a number increasing “hour-by-hour.”
This story has been updated to reflect the AHCA vote delay.
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.