Healthcare bill awaits CBO ruling before heading to Senate

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Updated May 19, 2017 at 8:26 AM
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May 19 (UPI) -- The House is awaiting a ruling by the Congressional Budget Office on whether its healthcare bill conforms with Senate reconciliation procedures before they send it to the Senate, House Republicans said.

The House approved the American Health Care Act by a slim 217-213 margin on May 4, before the CBO could analyze last-minute amendments and determine how those amendments would financially impact the country. The AHCA would replace President Barack Obama's signature Affordable Care Act.

Under Senate rules on reconciliation of House and Senate versions of a bill, the new healthcare bill would require only a simple majority in the Senate, meaning GOP members would not seek or need Democratic support. The Senate rules require the bill to meet its savings target of $2 billion over 10 years; if the bill is under consideration in the Senate and the CBO finds its will not reach the target, it will require 60 votes to pass and not a simple majority. At least eight Senate Democrats will be required to join Republicans in approving the bill in that case.

The non-partisan CBO is expected to release an updated estimate on potential savings next week. An early estimate of the ACHA, prior to changes added by the House, showed it will save $150 billion over 10 years.

"There is virtually no chance we don't meet the $2 billion savings target," an unidentified congressional aide told CNN.

Missing the target could mean the bill would be debated and voted on again, in the House.

In crafting the bill in the House, Republicans worked to assure that the bill had no flaws, including the crossing of jurisdictional boundaries not named in reconciliation instructions, or having it impact Social Security. The House Republicans were also in consultation with the Senate Budget Committee to assure themselves the bill would be acceptable to the Senate, CNN said.

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