The U.S. House narrowly approved a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare on Thursday. The New York Times reports that the American Health Care Act would make profound changes to Medicaid by ending the program’s status as an open-ended entitlement. The bill would also eliminate tax penalties for people who go without health insurance. The original bill failed to go to the House floor for a vote in March shortly after a Congressional Budget Office report projected 24 million people would lose their access to healthcare by 2026. Overall, the House voted 217-213 in favor of the repeal bill.
Nine of the ten North Carolina Republican representatives voted in favor of the bill. All three Democratic representatives from the Tar Heel state voted against it. Rep. Walter Jones was among 20 House Republicans not supportive of the Republican bill. Jones said in a statement that the repeal bill had been rushed through without a new CBO score. “No one has any idea how much those deals will cost the American taxpayers, or how they might affect the cost, quality and availability of health insurance coverage for American families,” Jones said. He added that his office has received thousands of calls from Eastern North Carolinians, and 90 percent of those constituents were opposed to the bill.
Rep. Mark Meadows is chairman of the Freedom Caucus — a group that was largely responsible for the bill’s failure to go to a vote in March. Meadows supported the new bill, saying in statement that it would decrease premiums for Americans and protect those with pre-existing conditions. The bill now heads to Senate where it will likely face comprehensive review and edits. House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke at the White House Thursday praising the bill’s passage in the House but noted a long process lies ahead. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, but one thing is now clear: Republicans are committed to keeping our promise to lift the burden of Obamacare from the American people and put in place a better, more patient-centered system.”