Spicer On Obamacare Repeal: ‘We’re Not There Yet’

White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, May 1, 2017. Spicer answered questions about the budget agreement, China and other topics.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, May 1, 2017. Spicer answered questions about the budget agreement, China and other topics. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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May 1, 2017 2:29 p.m.

Asked whether there are enough GOP votes in the House to repeal and replace Obamacare, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday: “We’re not there yet.”

The effort to repeal President Obama’s signature legislative achievement was boosted among conservative Republicans and interest groups after the announcement of an amendment from Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), which would allow states to opt out of some Obamacare pricing guidelines meant to shield older and sicker patients.

Spicer was responding to a reporter who asked if the effort was “a handful of votes away” from passing the House of Representatives. “Is this as close to maybe getting to that magic number that you’ve talked about?” the reporter asked.

“Well sure, once we get to 216 we’ll stop counting,” Spicer said. “I think the speaker gets that. But as I mentioned to Trey, we’re getting closer and closer every day. So I would assume today we’re a closer than we were a week ago. But we’re not there yet. And that decision is going to be wholly within the speaker and majority leader and the whip to let us know when they are going to open that vote up.”

Spicer was later pressed on Meadows and MacArthurs’ amendment, which allows states to eliminate the community rating rule barring age and price discrimination in health care premiums, if they are replaced with other tools like high risk pools. Critics of the amendment say it will create dual markets for healthier, younger people and sicker, older people, creating unsustainably high premiums for some.

“When I say the whole goal of this is to give the states the flexibility to get lower premiums,” Spicer said. “That’s the goal all around, is to make sure that the system we employ gets it down.”

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