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Ryan guarantees GOP health plan will pass House; conservatives pan the bill

"This bill is a train wreck waiting to happen," Michael Cannon, an expert at the libertarian Cato Institute, said.

By Doug G. Ware
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Ryan guarantees GOP health plan will pass House; conservatives pan the bill
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) holds a copy of the newly revealed Republican healthcare bill -- the American Health Care Act -- as Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., looks on at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. The plan is intended to replace the Affordable Care Act. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

March 7 (UPI) -- The top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives said Tuesday that he guarantees the GOP's proposed -- and heavily criticized -- plan to replace the Affordable Care Act will be approved by the lower congressional chamber.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said during a news conferencethat the plan -- called the American Health Care Act and first revealed Monday -- will have the necessary 218 House votes to advance to the Senate.

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"We are doing an act of mercy by repealing [the ACA] and replacing it with patient-centered healthcare reforms," Ryan said. "If we did nothing the law would collapse, and leave everybody without affordable healthcare."

Democrats, though, argue the "collapse" scenario is the result of overanxious Republicans who hastily began dismantling former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law in January when they had absolutely nothing ready to replace it.

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Tuesday, some critics said Republicans are now trying to push the AHCA too quickly.

"The speaker knows that the American people and members need to know the full impact of this legislation," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who has long been critical of Republicans' acts to deactivate the ACA, said Tuesday. "Yet Republicans are rushing to hold votes before the Congressional Budget Office can detail the devastating consequences of their bill, both in terms of less coverage and higher costs."

Congressional Republicans have faced criticism for weeks for their efforts to repeal and replace the ACA. Last week, Democratic and Republican lawmakers chided the bill's authors and accused them of trying to hide the legislation from congressional and public scrutiny.

RELATED House Republicans show long-awaited plan for ACA replacement

Ryan, though, said Tuesday that Republicans have been more than upfront about the new healthcare proposal and accused the former Obama administration of "jamming through" the ACA in 2010 -- an accusation refuted by health experts.

"In 2009 and 2010, the House held 79 hearings over the course of a year, heard from 181 witnesses and accepted 121 amendments [for the ACA]," Timothy Jost, a professor of health policy at Washington University in St. Louis, wrote Tuesday. "The current House leadership hopes to get the repeal and replacement legislation through the House in three weeks."

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Jost's assessment mirrors sentiments recently expressed by Democrats and former Obama administration officials, who have said Republicans moved too quickly to junk the ACA -- and eventually learned that the prospect has been far more complicated than they thought it would be.

"Families across America are going to be pushed off their health coverage just so Republicans can hand a massive tax break to the wealthy," Pelosi added. "How many millions will suffer under this assault on Americans' healthcare? ... Republicans are clearly afraid of the answer.

"The more we learn of the Republican proposal, the more we see it is a plan to Make America Sick Again."

Democrats aren't the only ones who continue to savage the proposal. Conservatives have also panned the GOP plan, saying it doesn't go far enough with the repeal of the ACA. One senator said it would be "dead on arrival" in the Senate.

"Everyone needs to take a step back," said Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. "This bill is a train wreck waiting to happen."

Two other conservative groups, FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, slammed the proposal as a betrayal of President Donald Trump's campaign promises.

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The president, though, voiced unflinching support for the bill Tuesday.

"You can choose your doctor. You can choose your plan. It's called good healthcare," he said.

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