WASHINGTON (ABC NEWS) – House Republicans have passed their ambitious plan to repeal and replace Obamacare after several fits and starts, sending the measure to the Senate, where it is expected to be significantly revised.
The bill passed the House in a narrow 217-213 vote. House Republicans will now head to the White House for a press conference.
Democrats warned that the changes will leave Americans worse off.
“Make no mistake – many people will die as a result of this bill,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, said.
Republicans, who have been promising to repeal and replace Obamacare for seven years but have struggled to coalesce around a specific legislative proposal, said they planned on keeping their promise to constituents.
“Our constituents did not elect us to do what is easy. They elected us to do what is right,” Rep. Diane Black, R-Tennessee, the chair of the House Budget Committee, said on the floor.
Republicans rallied at the Capitol this morning ahead of the vote, listening to the “Rocky” theme song. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, showed Republicans a photo of Gen. George Patton with an inspirational quote: “Accept the challenge so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.”
Missouri Republican Ann Wagner emerged from the meeting “all smiles,” telling ABC News “the line of the day was out of ‘Braveheart,’ ‘Freedom!’”
“We have the votes,” McCarthy told reporters after the meeting.
While Republicans held the vote without an updated analysis of its effects from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, many defended the decision to move forward without the projections.
“I know we’re doing the right thing,” freshman Rep. Brian Mast, R-Florida, an Army vet who lost both legs in Afghanistan and represents a swing district, told reporters as he left the meeting.
An earlier analysis of the bill from the CBO — before several amendments were added — projected that 24 million additional Americans would be uninsured by 2026 and that it would reduce the deficit by $337 billion, compared to the Affordable Cart Act. The bill also restructures Medicaid payments to the states, reducing federal spending.
A compromise amendment designed to attract votes would give states the ability to opt out of certain Obamacare provisions, including essential health benefits requiring coverage of mental health, prescription drugs and maternity care, among others.
The amendment would also allow states to opt out of another mandate that prevents insurers from charging consumers with pre-existing conditions more for coverage.
Even though the bill has passed the House, there are still major roadblocks ahead in the Senate, where the bill is expected to undergo significant changes.