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Politics

Pelosi warns House Republicans will carry 'scar' if they pass health-care bill

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi contended Thursday that Republicans will be judged by their votes on their bill to replace Obamacare, a plan that she warned would backfire.

The House GOP has pushed to pass the American Health Care Act later Thursday after a series of last-minute amendments to win over both moderates and conservatives. Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy told reporters Thursday that "it will pass."

Pelosi, a congresswoman from California, on Thursday took swipes at the GOP for aiming to pass the plan without an assessment of its costs from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. She contended that the rush to pass the proposal — which proved unpopular in opinion polling of an earlier version — showed Republicans are "terrified" about its potential effects.

"They have this vote tattooed on them. This is a scar that they will carry," Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference.

Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, once similarly criticized Pelosi for moving too quickly during the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

The House GOP says the proposal will reduce costs and increase choices for consumers. Ryan, who along with other Republicans has campaigned for years on repealing Obamacare, has said the law is failing.

The bill reduces Affordable Care Act income-based subsidies for the individual insurance market in favor of tax credits based on age. It would do away with Obamacare's individual mandate and roll back funding for Medicaid in states that expanded it.

It would get rid of Obamacare's taxes, which would benefit wealthier Americans. Pelosi contended that the plan "was never about strengthening health care" but "was all about a tax break."

In late March, the CBO estimated that the number of uninsured people would increase by 24 million over the next decade with an earlier version of the plan than under current law, largely due to a rollback of Medicaid expansion. Republicans have continued to defend the plan, highlighting the CBO's assessment that premiums would fall over 10 years after initially rising.

Companies are expected to be able to charge older Americans up to five times more under the proposal. The CBO estimated that premiums would rise for older Americans under the plan over 10 years while they would drop for younger Americans.

Amendments to the plan have taken shape to appease both Republican conservatives and moderates. States, in certain conditions, can get waivers so that insurers do not have to offer essential health benefits.

They could also waive rules requiring that insurers not charge more for pre-existing conditions and would have to set up controversial high-risk pools for those people to buy insurance. The latest amendment to win over moderates — introduced by Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan — aims to reduce concerns about funding those pools by providing an additional $8 billion over five years for premiums or other out-of-pocket costs.

Republicans contend that they will not reduce protection for people with pre-existing conditions but critics say the $8 billion isn't nearly enough money. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said it's "like administering cough medicine to someone with stage 4 cancer."

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