House Panel Clears Healthcare Bill in Predawn Vote

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady R Texas listens at left as House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Greg Walden R-Ore. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington

The next big battle over Obamacare repeal is likely to be the House floor after the Ways and Means Committee passed its contribution to Republicans' effort to overturn and replace the Affordable Care Act early Thursday.

The pre-dawn committee vote came after 18 hours of debate. The House Energy and Commerce Committee was still debating the legislation as of press time. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, endorsed that approach. "Simply put - the Republican Repeal bill cost more, do less and will not help working families in New Mexico".

The plan suffered a setback Wednesday when several major hospital and medical organizations including the American Medical Association, which represents more than 200,000 doctors, lined up in opposition.

"Today's action was just the first fight in a long battle, and I do not intend to sit silently and let the President and his allies rip away health insurance from more than 235,000 New Mexicans and millions of other Americans nationwide".

"Here were are at nearly 2 o'clock in the morning taking a vote when the American people have gone to sleep", the leading Democrat on the committee, Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), said.

The legislation, called America's Health Care Act, has not yet been scored by the Congressional Budget Office but could mean a loss of coverage for at least 15 million people in 10 years, according to the Brookings Institution.

"We'd welcome him to come and talk to the people in MI who with all sincerity supported him because they thought he was going to make their lives better and let's talk about what happens when they lose health care", she said.

"While we agree that there are problems with the ACA that must be addressed, we can not support the AHCA as drafted because of the expected decline in health insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations", the group wrote. "Afterward, legislation would go to the House Budget Committee and then finally to the House as a whole".

While the National Business Group on Health hasn't taken a stance on the entirety of AHCA, Kristof Stremikis, of the group's national policy team, cautioned that it is too soon to celebrate over the fact that the bill leaves out a cap on tax breaks for employer-sponsored health plans that previously leaked drafts included. If someone wants a low-priced, high-deductible plan, let them buy it.

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