(Bloomberg) — House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would “most likely” bring a health care bill forward for a floor vote on Thursday, even as he seeks to increase tax credits to help older people buy insurance to tamp down concerns about moderate Republicans.
“We believe that we do need to add some additional assistance to people in those older cohorts,” Ryan said of the bill, known as the American Health Care Act, on “Fox News Sunday.” “That’s one of the things we’re looking at.”
Ryan defined the group as people in their 50s and 60s who typically face higher health care costs than those in their 20s or 30s. A Congressional Budget Office review of the bill released on March 13 suggested there would be increases in out-of-pocket costs, especially for older people.
The nonpartisan CBO estimated that 14 million Americans could lose their insurance next year under the Republican’s Affordable Care Act overhaul plan, a dire picture of the bill’s effects that could hurt the party heading into the 2018 congressional elections.
At the same time, insurance premiums will continue to rise in the near term, especially for older Americans. As the bill now stands, older, poorer Americans will have far less help from Republican tax credits starting in 2020 than they get through ACA advance premium tax credit subsidies.
‘Older, rural americans’
“We have to do something about the fact that the House bill disproportionately affects older, rural Americans,” Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Collins is one of the potential swing voters in the Senate that AHCA backers need to get the measure through theSenate.
Ryan didn’t say whether he had the 218 votes necessary to pass the bill, which would replace the ACA, but he said he feels “very good about where we are.”
“We’re still having conversations with our members,” Ryan said. “We’re making fine-tuning improvements to the bill to reflect people’s concerns.”
Asked on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures” whether the bill would pass the House on Thursday, Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington said, “We’re definitely moving in the right direction” and “I am confident we will come together.”
Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Sunday that efforts to sell the bill are “going well, had a lot of meetings on that.” Trump met with Vice President Mike Pence and senior staff this weekend, and chief strategist Steve Bannon conferred with Republican senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, as well as Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, according to a White House aide.