In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Opposition to the the GOP bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act continued to emerge on Wednesday—the bill's second day in the public eye—with statements condemning the bill from groups representing doctors, nurses, hospitals, and the elderly.

Mobbed by reporters as he emerged from casting an afternoon vote, the bill's author Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) brushed off the latest round of criticism, saying the thousands of hospitals and hundreds of thousands of doctors are part of a "medical industrial complex" that opposes major reforms to Medicaid.

"The hospitals came out against Medicaid reform before they ever saw the bill," said Walden, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "But, you know, we understand that there's a pretty big medical industrial complex that when you touch it, it touches back."

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Almost none of the Obamacare taxes survive in the repeal legislation that the GOP congressional leadership is pushing. But the one Obamacare tax that Republicans do retain -- though it is delayed for almost a decade -- is a surprising candidate. The legislation includes an implementation in 2025 of the widely loathed Cadillac tax, which imposes a 40 percent levy on the most generous of employer health insurance plans.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “Better Way” agenda called the Cadillac tax “controversial,” while the the head of the conservative political organization Heritage Action once described it as a “political nightmare of epic proportions.”

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On Wednesday morning, two powerful House committees began marking up the bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act despite the fact that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not yet crunched the numbers on what the plan would cost or how many people would lose their health insurance if it passes.

The Republican authors of the bills refused to say this week if the number of uninsured Americans would grow or shrink under their proposals. Independent estimates of how many people would lose insurance range between two to four million and tens of millions of people. As for how much the plan would cost the federal government, Republican leaders offered no numbers—only vague assurances that it will be "fiscally responsible."

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Tierney Sneed contributed reporting.

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are making it clear not only that they're unhappy with the bill Republican leaders unveiled this week to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but that it doesn't have enough support to pass the House in its current iteration.

"Right now the Speaker of the House does not have the votes to pass this bill unless he's got substantial Democratic support," Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) told reporters after the caucus' Tuesday night meeting with Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, according to The Hill.

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Less than 24 hours after its unveiling, the House bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act was engulfed in a firestorm of criticism from the left, right, and center of the political spectrum.

Hardline conservatives blasted the plan as "Obamacare-lite," while more moderate Republicans fretted that the plan will not adequately protect those who gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

As they tried to straddle a potentially impossible political divide, the House committee chairs pushing the bill forward presented a contradictory message: The bill both completely scraps Obamacare and protects some of its most popular provisions.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Greg Walden (R-OR) (pictured above right) listed those provisions in a press conference on Tuesday: "We are protecting those patients living with preexisting conditions under our plan," he said. "We are not returning to the days of lifetime or annual limits. And we will continue to allow young adults to remain on their parents' policies until they reach the age of 26. And we will keep our promise not to pull the rug out from anyone, including those on Medicaid."

To the consternation of conservative lawmakers, the bill also maintains the Affordable Care Act's "Cadillac Tax" on pricey employer insurance plans and its rule that health insurance plans must cover 10 "essential benefits."

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Alice Ollstein contributed reporting.


House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is not in the mood to negotiate the Obamacare repeal bill – and he doesn't want you to get the idea that the vice president is either.

Ryan pushed back at the idea that Vice President Mike Pence had told conservative hardliners that the Obamacare repeal bill unveiled this week was open to negotiations, arguing that what Pence meant is that Republicans are at the beginning of a process that will also include administrative changes to the law and separate health care reform bills down the road.

“It’s not that this is open for negotiations," Ryan said Tuesday at a press conference to tout the legislation, the American Health Care Act. Pence had met with Republicans on both sides of the chamber Tuesday, including the House hardliners resisting the bill.

"What Mike is trying to describe is we envision three phases,” Ryan said, referring to a process that will start with the American Health Care Act, incorporate regulatory changes made by Health and Humans Secretary Tom Price and eventually include standalone health care bills that will need Democratic support.

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Flanked by the GOP Senate leadership team, Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday delivered an implicit message to those conservatives who are resisting House Republicans' newly-unveiled Obamacare repeal bill.

"The President and I believe that the American Health Care Act is the framework for reform," Pence told reporters after meeting with the Senate GOP, referring to the controversial legislation.

"We're certainly open to improvements and to recommendations in the legislative process, but this is the bill and the President supports the American Health Act," Pence said.

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Donald Trump's nominee for deputy attorney general on Tuesday declined to commit to appointing a special prosecutor to lead any probe into Russian election interference, including into alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any probe involving the Trump campaign, Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. Attorney in Maryland, would be tasked with leading such an investigation if confirmed. Democrats are pushing for Rosenstein to step aside from any probe into ties between Trump and his associates and Russia as well.

During his confirmation hearing, Rosenstein cautioned that he does not have enough information about the situation to determine whether his own recusal on such a probe would be appropriate. But he explained that he has no reason to believe he couldn't handle the investigation himself, if there was one.

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The two committee chairmen shepherding the new Obamacare repeal and replacement bill through the House bobbed and weaved when pressed by reporters Tuesday on whether their plan will provide as many people with health insurance coverage as Obamacare does today.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) held a press conference Tuesday morning to promote the American Health Care Act—a bill unveiled Monday night that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a system of tax credits to buy private insurance.

Asked directly if more or fewer people would be covered under his bill than under the Affordable Care Act, Brady said Tuesday that a more appropriate question would be: "Does it cover more people with affordable health care than today?" Brady answered neither question, instead telling reporters than in his Texas district "more people have opted out of Obamacare than are taking it, and those who have it, frankly can't use it. The deductibles are too high. The copayments are too high. It doesn't help them."

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