House Republicans pulled their health-care bill shortly before a vote on Friday, and for once the media dirge is right about a GOP defeat. This is a major blow to the Trump Presidency, the GOP majority in Congress, and especially to the cause of reforming and limiting government.

The damage is all the more acute because it was self-inflicted. President Trump was right to say on Friday that Democrats provided no help, but Democrats were never going to vote to repeal President Obama’s most important legislation. And that’s no excuse. Republicans have campaigned for more than seven years on repealing and replacing ObamaCare, and they finally have a President ready to sign it. In the clutch they choked.

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Despite days of intense negotiations and last-minute concessions to win over wavering GOP conservatives and moderates, House Republican leaders Friday failed to secure enough support to pass their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the bill from consideration after he rushed to the White House to tell President Donald Trump that there weren’t the 216 votes necessary for passage.

“We came really close today, but we came up short,” he told reporters at a hastily called news conference.

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The American Health Care Act is all about is the boldest and most conservative health-care legislation to come before Congress in decades. Bold because it dismantles the progressive health-care experiment and replaces it with a dynamic, patient-centered system. Conservative because it applies America’s founding principles—freedom, free enterprise and federalism—to the problems of the day. Repeal of ObamaCare must happen, and urgently—not because of any ideology but because American families are already paying the price of the law’s collapse. The legislation gives control of Medicaid back to the states, equips state insurance markets to take care of people with pre-existing conditions without driving up costs for everyone else, and expands health savings accounts.

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President Trump issued an ultimatum on Thursday to recalcitrant Republicans to support the American Health Care Act or see their opportunity to repeal the ACA vanish, demanding a Friday vote on a bill that appeared to lack a majority to pass. The demand, issued by his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, in an evening meeting with House Republicans, came after a marathon day of negotiating at the White House and in the Capitol in which President Trump sought to sell members of his own party on the health plan. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan emerged from the session and announced that President Trump would get his wish for a vote on Friday.

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The House GOP yanked its health-care bill on Thursday ahead of a planned vote, and perhaps they’ll reconvene on today or later. The House bill to repeal Obamacare is a realistic compromise that can improve health-care markets, and no one has offered a better policy alternative to the American Health Care Act that could pass the House and Senate. The obstacle to progress has been the 29 or so Members of the House Freedom Caucus, who have the power to deny House Speaker Paul Ryan a majority of 216 with a mere 22-vote margin of error. The Freedom Caucus blocked incremental reform progress after the GOP took Congress under President Obama, and the question is whether they will indulge the same rule-or-ruin tactics now against Mr. Trump.

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The House health-care bill is gaining momentum, and on Monday night the GOP posted amendments meant to add fence-sitters to the coalition. Don’t discount the stakes: The vote scheduled for Thursday is a linchpin moment for this Congress, and a test of whether the GOP can deliver on its commitment to voters.

For seven years and across four elections, Republicans have promised to repeal and replace ObamaCare if entrusted with the Presidency and House and Senate majorities. Now they have the opportunity to dispose of the failing law and begin to stand up a more market-oriented, patient-centered system. The reform isn’t perfect, and no bill ever is, but the reality is that a no vote is a vote for the ObamaCare status quo.

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The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) estimate of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) finds it will reduce deficits by $337 billion through 2026 (read our analysis here). But what would it mean for the long term?

While CBO hasn’t yet provided second decade estimates (other than to say the bill would not be deficit-increasing), we estimate – very roughly – that the bill would save $2 trillion over two decades, including $1.6 trillion between 2027 and 2036. Including interest, we estimate 20-year savings of $2.4 trillion. However, the bill also includes several “cliffs” that if addressed could significantly reduce that estimate.

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President Trump has mostly stayed on the sidelines of the messy policy debates regarding health care reform. But amid the war on Capitol Hill among Republican factions, he could seize the opportunity to provide leadership consistent with his campaign message to disrupt existing health policy.

Instead of trying to satisfy the free-market wing of his party, Mr. Trump could push for a solution that delivers on his populist promises by proposing universal catastrophic coverage, ending the specter of medical bankruptcy for many Americans. By providing catastrophic care for all, President Trump could ensure that everyone has an ultimate backstop against medical bankruptcy, while freeing the states to experiment with options for reform. It would also enable the private sector to offer new insurance products to supplement the basic catastrophic care coverage.

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House Republican leaders, racing toward a planned Thursday vote on their proposed health-care overhaul, unveiled changes to the legislation late Monday that they think will win over enough members to secure its passage.

The tweaks addressed numerous GOP concerns about the legislation, ranging from the flexibility it would give states to administer their Medicaid programs to the amount of aid it would offer older Americans to buy insurance. They are the product of two weeks of negotiations that stretched from the Capitol to the White House to President Trump’s Florida resort.

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Almost 30 years after leaving office, Ronald Reagan is widely considered one of America’s greatest leaders and the icon of the conservative movement. As a Republican member of Congress, I often speak at Lincoln-Reagan Day dinners and other events honoring his legacy.

Yet as I watch the debate over our House Republican plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare, I’m struck by a question. Would President Reagan be acceptable to some of today’s conservatives? Does anyone remember that Reagan was a master of advancing his principles by looking for common ground and finding consensus?

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