Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Republicans have the votes to pass the bill.
WASHINGTON — House Republicans will vote on a bill to repeal major portions of Democratic President Barack Obama's health care law.
That's the word Wednesday night from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who told reporters "yes" when asked if they have sufficient votes. Leaders have spent days scrambling to round up the votes for their legislation.
If the bill passes, it would be a major win for President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan after GOP opposition forced them to abruptly pull the bill in March.
The latest iteration of the GOP bill would let states escape a current requirement that insurers charge healthy and seriously ill customers the same rates. That's a major problem for moderate Republicans, but the announcement of a vote signaled that leadership believes the measure will pass.
WASHINGTON — A pair of moderate Republicans who'd been holdouts against the GOP health care bill said Wednesday they were now backing the high-profile legislation after winning President Donald Trump's support for their proposal aimed at reviving the languishing measure.
Reps. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Billy Long, R-Mo., were among four House members who met with Trump at the White House as the administration and House leaders labored to prevent another collapse of one of the party's top priorities.
The lawmakers said they believed a House vote could occur Thursday. Upton said he believed the long-stalled measure was likely to pass, though it was unclear initially exactly how many votes the new revision would win over.
For weeks, House leaders have lacked the votes for their drive to repeal much of President Barack Obama's health care law, especially among moderate Republicans. Some have said they were within single digits of getting the 216 votes needed to prevail.
"Today we're here announcing that with this addition that we brought to the president, and sold him on in over an hour meeting in here with him, that we're both yesses on the bill," Long told reporters at the White House.
Like many moderates, Upton and Long had expressed concerns that the GOP bill weakened protections under Obama's law that prevent insurers from charging people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums.
But Upton and Long crafted a proposal providing $8 billion over five years to help some people with pre-existing medical conditions afford coverage. Upton said their plan would put "downward pressure" on premium costs.
Winning support from Upton and Long, who are both moderates, moves leaders two steps closer to the votes they'll need to prevail. Upton's conversion was especially significant because he's a respected, centrist voice on health issues and former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Long said that at the meeting with Trump, the president kept telling him, "We need you, we need you, we need you."
Also attending the White House meeting were the current Energy and Commerce chairman, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, who heads a health subcommittee.
Before the White House meeting, House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the proposal and said the GOP was getting "extremely close" to finally being able to pass the stalled legislation.
"We're getting extremely close," Ryan, R-Wis., said on radio's "The Hugh Hewitt Show." He said the proposal "is something that nobody has a problem with, and it's actually helping" round up support for the bill.
Including Upton and Long, The Associated Press has counted 21 GOP lawmakers opposing the Republican bill, one shy of the 22 needed to kill it, assuming all Democrats vote no.
At least 11 others said they were undecided, but all the figures are subject to fluctuation as both sides lobby heavily.
The existing health care measure would let states get federal waivers allowing insurers to charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing illnesses who'd let their coverage lapse. To get the waiver, the state must have a high-risk pool or another mechanism to help such people afford a policy.
Opponents said that would effectively deny such people coverage by letting insurers charge them unaffordable prices. They say high-risk pools have a mixed record because government money financing them often proves inadequate.
The money in Upton's plan would help people with pre-existing illnesses pay premiums in states where insurers can charge them more.
There's already around $130 billion in the legislation states could use to help people afford insurance, but critics have said that's just a fraction of what would be needed for adequate coverage.
Under Obama's law, insurers must charge healthy and seriously ill customers the same rates. The bill's supporters say it protects those with pre-existing conditions and that the exclusion would affect only some of them.
An initial health care bill imploded in March under opposition by conservative and moderate Republicans. The overall bill would cut Medicaid, repeal tax boosts on higher-earning people, eliminate Obama's fines on people who don't buy insurance and give many of them smaller federal subsidies.