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Obamacare Replacement Plan Clears First Hurdle

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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – After 18 hours of debate and clashes between Democrats and Republicans, the House Ways and Means Committee pushed through the GOP replacement for Obamacare.

But it wasn’t an easy process. Democrats offered dozens of amendments to slow down the process. Among them measures aimed at preventing the bill from raising deficits, kicking people off coverage or boosting consumers’ out-of-pocket costs. They tried unsuccessfully to insert language which would pressure President Donald Trump to release his income tax returns. They also failed to prevent Republicans from restoring insurance companies’ tax deductions for executive salaries above $500,000 – a break Mr. Obama’s law killed.

“We’re buying a pig in a poke. We don’t know how much it’s going to cost,” said Rep. Eliot Engel, D-New York.

“Trumpcare will hurt our oldest poorest and sickest citizens the most,” argued Rep. Yvette Clarke, D- New York.

The AARP warned that “this bill would … dramatically increase health care costs for Americans aged 50-64” in the individual market. That age group would see the largest cuts to their Obamacare tax credits — in some cases, by more than $5,000 a year, according to CBS News.

At the same time, insurers would be allowed to charge them premiums five times larger than younger Americans up from the three-to-one ratio under Obamacare.

Standard and Poors estimates that those changes, plus cuts to Medicaid, would lead to 6 to 10 million Americans losing coverage.

Despite push-back from conservative Republicans, along with major hospital and senior groups, GOP leaders are determined to put the legislation on the fast-track.

“I have no doubt we’ll pass this because we’re going to keep our promises,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The Energy and Commerce Committee panel continues to work on the plan. They’ve been at it for more than 24 hours.

“The bill unravels the Affordable Care Act’s protection for people with pre-existing conditions in many ways,” said Rep. G. K. Butterfield, D-North Carolina.

There some warning signs that the so-called “Trumpcare” plan could be in trouble and they’re coming from Republicans. Rep. Dave Brat, R-Virginia, is part of the House Freedom Caucus which opposes the GOP plan.

“The product we gotta get right and we don’t have the product right in this thing,” said Rep. Dave Brat, R-Virginia.

President Trump will host some members of the House Freedom Caucus at the White House Thursday evening for a night of bowling and persuasion.

Republicans want the House to vote on the bill within the next two weeks, even though members still do not know how much it costs or how it will be paid for.

As the healthcare debate rages on, the White House continues to field tough questions from the press over President Donald Trump’s wiretap claims.

“There’s no reason to believe that there is any type of investigation with respect to the Department of Justice,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer during a daily briefing with reporters.

On Wednesday, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham and Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse sent a letter to the FBI asking for any information that would have warranted a wiretap on Trump Tower in New York.

“If there’s no warrant that’s something we need to know. If there is a warrant, I need to understand why one was issued,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina.

The White House has asked Congress to investigate the President’s charge.

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