The Latest: Conservatives say Trump open to GOP bill fixes

The Latest: Conservatives say Trump open to GOP bill fixes

By The Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 8, 2017 at 4:50 p.m.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the health care debate as Congress begins work on a GOP-drafted overhaul (all times EST):

6:40 p.m.

A group of conservative leaders say after a meeting with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence that the administration is willing to make changes to the Republican legislation to repeal and replace the health care law.

Club for Growth President David McIntosh says he was encouraged that Trump "indicated they're pushing to make changes in the bill."

McIntosh says the president "indicated that they're working to make it better."

Several conservative groups have objected to the bill, saying it amounts to Obamacare Lite.

The Republican-led House Ways and Means Committee has blocked efforts by Democrats to amend the GOP health care bill.


5:20 p.m.

Health insurers say they have concerns about parts of the House Republican health care bill but see others as "positive steps."

The trade group America's Health Insurance Plans has sent a letter to key House committee chairs. It says parts of the GOP plan for funding Medicaid in the future "could result in unnecessary disruptions in the coverage and care beneficiaries depend on."

Republicans want to convert the federal-state health insurance program now covering some 70 million low-income and disabled people from an open-ended entitlement to one in which funding for states will be subject to new limits.

The insurers cited as positive several measures the bill takes to try to stabilize the market for individual health policies, as well as the bill's repeal of a tax on their industry.


3:15 p.m.

The leading trade group representing the nation's hospitals says it cannot support the House Republican health care bill in its current form.

The American Hospital Association joins the American Medical Association, raising similar concerns that coverage for millions of people may be jeopardized. The hospital group represents nearly 5,000 such institutions nationwide.

AHA president Rick Pollack said in a letter to members of Congress that its ability to assess the impact of the Republican bill is "severely hampered" by the lack of a formal coverage estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.

The group also said that the bill's Medicaid provisions "will have the effect of making significant reductions in a program that provides services to our most vulnerable populations," and already pays providers less than other forms of insurance.


1:25 p.m.

A Republican-led House committee has blocked a Democratic effort to add language to the GOP health care bill asking President Donald Trump to release his income tax returns.

The Ways and Means Committee derailed the proposal on a party-line 23-16 vote.

Sensing a chance for political points, Democrats said the returns could reveal whether Trump has investments in Russia or financial conflicts of interest.

Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas drew laughter, saying the returns would show if Trump has a tanning salon at his Florida estate. The bill would end a tax on tanning salons.

Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady said the proposal would be "an abuse of authority" by the committee.

Trump has refused to release his returns. Both parties' presidential candidates have traditionally done so for decades.


11:35 a.m.

In the day's first vote on Republican health care legislation, GOP lawmakers controlling the House Ways and Means Committee have blocked a Democratic attempt to delay the panel's work for a week.

Texas Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett said there's been little time to understand what's in the legislation. The measure would unravel much of former President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

In a paraphrase of comments President Donald Trump has made, Doggett said that "'Trust me, it will be great' isn't a plan."

The committee voted along party lines 22-16 to continue working on the legislation.

Republicans say there's been time to study the legislation since they released it Monday night. They say Congress has held scores of hearings on the subject since the law was enacted in 2010.


10:35 a.m.

Two House committees have started Congress' first working sessions to formally write Republican legislation to dismantle former President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. The legislation would restructure the nation's health care system with a more conservative, market-oriented approach.

The Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees are both are likely to debate and vote on the measures all day.

The GOP-written proposal they are considering is supported by President Donald Trump. But they face strong objections from conservatives and concerns from moderate Republicans. No support is likely from Democrats.

Republican leaders hope to get the bill through the House by April. Its Senate prospects are less certain.

The legislation would repeal Obama's penalties on people who don't buy coverage. It would replace them with tax credits, and would curb Medicaid.


10:25 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is defending the House Republican health care plan in the face of growing opposition from conservatives and medical professionals.

Ryan told reporters on Wednesday that the choice is to stay with the Affordable Care Act or "do what we said we would do."

Republicans have promised for seven years to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Ryan says the bill is a conservative wish list, including eliminating funds for Planned Parenthood.

Ryan's comments came as several conservative members have expressed opposition. On Wednesday, the American Medical Association announced its opposition to the bill.


9:25 a.m.

The American Medical Association says it won't support the proposed health care plan as drafted by congressional Republicans.

The nation's largest physicians group says the proposal is critically flawed and a threat to coverage for poor and sick people in the United States.

The AMA has sent a letter to congressional leaders outlining the organization's concerns about the plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

The AMA says the proposed rollback in Medicaid expansion is especially worrisome. The group notes that the expansion has helped many states cope with rising demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment related to the opioid crisis.

The letter asks Congress to do all that's "possible to ensure that those who care currently covered do not become uninsured."

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