President Donald Trump didn’t pull any punches when addressing the Affordable Care Act during his final campaign speech in November of 2016.
“Real change begins with immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare,” Trump said.
That initiative took a major blow on March 24, as Speaker of the House Paul Ryan withdrew the proposed Republican alternative to the ACA due to a lack of Republicans in support from the House of Representatives.
The House Budget Committee had previously passed the new bill, named the American Health Care Act, on March 16 by 19-17. Although a vote from the House was anticipated on March 23, the White House requested that the event be pushed to the next day as leaders of the Republican Party scrambled to get votes for the bill.
A simple majority (218 votes out of 435 possible) was needed for the House to pass the bill and send to the Senate. Republicans currently take 241 seats in the House.
Trump labeled the House Freedom Caucus, headed by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), as the one responsible for the bill’s failure.
“Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare,” Trump said in a tweet on March 26.
The Freedom Caucus is a group of approximately 40 members of the House who are staunchly conservative. All identities of those representatives aren’t publicized.
“It’s not exactly clear who they are because they’re invitation only,” NPR Politics Editor Domenico Montenaro said in a report on All Things Considered. “They’re a little bit private about that.”
In Trump’s view, Conservatives weren’t the only ones at fault for the bill’s failure.
“We had no Democratic support,” Trump said in a press conference after the withdrawal. “I’ve been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we could do, politically speaking, is let Obamacare explode. It’s exploding right now.”
The decision to pull the bill came after Trump called on the Republicans of the House to move forward with the legislation, saying that he would not push for any further changes to Obamacare if the ACA wasn’t passed.
Trump and Ryan have faced criticism from both sides of the aisle after the defeat. With the Republicans now controlling the presidency and the majority of the House, the party as a whole is coming under fire for their inability to deliver on one of their most prominent promises.
“In my life, I have never seen an administration as incompetent as the one occupying the White House today,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer after the decision. “Today we’ve learned that they cant’s count votes and they can’t close a deal.”
Ryan, who played a big role in the construction of the bill, has been accused by many conservatives for not fulfilling his duties. Fox News host Jeanine Pirro caused a stir when she called for Ryan’s resignation.
“Paul Ryan needs to step down as speaker of the House,” Pirro said. “The reason? He failed to deliver votes on his health care bill.”
Others, like Meadows, were less satisfied with the implications of the bill than those who crafted it. Meadows said that he is still open to health care reform, but wants to deliver on pledges made to his constituents.
“I promised the people of North Carolina’s 11th District that I would fight for a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act and a replacement with a market-driven approach that brings down costs and provides more choices for the American people,” Matthews said in a statement.
The ramifications of the proposed GOP bill included significantly less support for Medicaid, a cut in taxes brought forth by Obamacare, and an end to the mandate for enrollment in the system. The Congressional Budget Office predicted that the bill would reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion over 10 years and 24 million people would lose health insurance.
In addition to the proposed changes, many parts of Obamacare remained. Fore example, parents would still be allowed to keep their children on their insurance plans until they turned 26. Protection against discrimination for people with pre-existing conditions would remain as well.