As the dust settled Thursday afternoon and evening on the U.S. House of Representatives’ 217-213 vote to approve the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the American people and the healthcare industry braced themselves for what’s next.
Emotional responses to the vote ranged from Rose Garden exhilaration at the White House, to despair among those who have come to rely on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to maintain affordable health insurance.
Meanwhile, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the former governor and Hillary Clinton running mate, prepared for the work he knows will be necessary when the U.S. Senate takes up the bill in the coming days.
Kaine, who holds a position on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, will have a hand in shaping the Senate’s version of the AHCA. He took to Facebook Thursday to lay out a challenge to his Republican fellow senators.
“The Senate should put this bill into committee, let the CBO study it, hold hearings to hear from doctors and patients and engage in a meaningful bipartisan effort to improve health care,” Kaine wrote on his official U.S. Senate Facebook page. “And we should never accept a bill that causes people to lose coverage or pay more. That’s what the President promised and we need to hold him accountable for it.”
Kaine also was a guest on NPR’s Morning Edition Friday and said that his mindset after Thursday’s AHCA passage in the House is to “roll up his sleeves” and create a plan that builds on what was successful about the ACA while correcting what he perceives as dire weaknesses of the Republican plan that passed the House.
Senate Republicans Signal Compromise Possible
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans cast a wary eye toward the work of their House colleagues and signaled that, like Kaine, they might be ready to work toward a compromise that would strengthen the plan.
“We’re writing a Senate bill and not passing the House bill,” Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee told Politico. “We’ll take whatever good ideas we find there that meet our goals.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sounded a note of alarm at the haste with which the House bill was moved through committee and onto the floor for a vote before a two-week recess.
“Any bill that has been posted less than 24 hours, going to be debated three or four hours, not scored … needs to be viewed with suspicion,” Graham told reporters Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that the Senate will wait until the parliamentarian has reviewed the bill and until the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has scored it.
The House moved forward without a CBO score of the bill in its final version. A previous CBO review estimated that as many as 24 million Americans would lose their health insurance over the course of a decade if the AHCA became the law of the land.
For a detailed summary of what was contained within the version of the AHCA passed Thursday, click this link to a Kaiser Family Foundation document.