It's Judgment Day on the House legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. And while prospects for passage looked grim as of Wednesday afternoon — with both GOP conservatives and moderates lining up against the bill — a potential breakthrough to placate opposed conservatives emerged by including the elimination of Essential Health Benefits (more on those below). And that could be enough to get the necessary 215 votes to pass the legislation, though it could also complicate matters for Senate Republicans. So how will it all turn out? It's anyone's guess, but here are four reasons why the bill will pass — and seven reasons why it might still not.
More from NBC News:
First Read's morning clips: Everything you need to know about the health care vote
Trump's hard sell on health care hasn't worked — At least not yet
First Read's morning clips: Manafort and Russia
And given that Republicans can afford just 22 defections, those 29 in opposition are enough to sink the deal. Which is why a deal emerged yesterday on including an elimination of Obamacare's Essential Health Benefits: "The White House made a major concession to the Freedom Caucus on Wednesday night. It agreed to add a provision to the health care bill to eliminate an Obamacare mandate that forces insurance plans to provide a minimum menu of benefits. Ryan and other top Republicans had balked at making such a move, fearing it would derail the bill under the Senate's arcane procedural rules," Politico writes. "But with a possible defeat looming on Thursday, the White House went along. The concession showed how far Trump is willing to go to prevail, though problems remain with some moderate Republicans."
Business Insider's Josh Barro adds: "Without the EHB rules, insurers could, for example, sell some plans that cover maternity care and others that do not. Men would not buy maternity coverage, and many women would wait to buy maternity coverage until they thought they were likely to get pregnant. The problem is, if you choose to pay for something, insurers will assume you are highly likely to use it and price accordingly." Not all conservative opponents are sold. "Repealing EHB, w/out making other substantial changes, would make the bill worse, not better. It would hurt the sickest people on exchanges," Rep. Amash (R-MI).
The way to understand this possible deal on Essential Health Benefits is that there are more gettable votes from the right for Trump/Ryan. But while this deal might increase the chances for passage, it might not come today. After all, there's no been no CBO score on any new changes. And, of course, there hasn't been enough time to read any revised bill. Don't be surprised if there's a delay to get the rest of these conservatives on board.
Beyond today's health-care drama, check out all of the new developments when it comes to Russia and Team Trump.
One, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said on MSNBC's "MTP Daily" yesterday that he has seen "more than circumstantial evidence" that associates of President Donald Trump colluded with Russia… Two, CNN reported that the FBI "has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign."… And three, the AP has this story: "U.S. Treasury Department agents have recently obtained information about offshore financial transactions involving President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, as part of a federal anti-corruption probe into his work in Eastern Europe." Drip, drip, drip.
The other big story from yesterday: "House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes … has risked undermining the credibility of the panel's investigation of Russian interference of the 2016 election by sharing new information with the White House, his Democratic counterpart said Wednesday," per the LA Times.
"By briefing the public and then President Trump about intercepted communications involving members of the transition team, but not other members of the committee involved in the investigation, Nunes cast 'quite a profound cloud over our ability to do our work,' Rep. Adam B. Schiff … told reporters. 'The chairman will either need to decide if he's leading an investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House.'"