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Week ahead: Republicans look for path forward on ObamaCare repeal

Week ahead: Republicans look for path forward on ObamaCare repeal
© Greg Nash

Republicans are searching for a path forward on their healthcare bill after failing to win enough votes to pass it before the weekend.

Some Republicans are hoping for a vote as soon as next week, but GOP leaders are cautioning that they will not call a vote until they have enough votes for passage.

Speaking on the House floor Friday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) did not raise hopes of a vote next week.

"I don't have anything scheduled for next week," he said of the healthcare bill. He added, though, that "as soon as possible we will bring that bill to the floor."

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While the conservative House Freedom Caucus has now largely backed the bill, many moderates are still holding out.

According to The Hill's Whip List, 21 Republican members are 'no' votes on the revised healthcare bill. Assuming all Democrats vote against the bill, GOP leadership can only afford 22 defections and still pass the legislation.

Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), the centrist who authored a new amendment to the bill, said Friday that he is open to making further changes to bring on more moderate members, but he declined to discuss what those might be.

Some members have suggested that slight tweaks in the bill's Medicaid language could bring more moderates on board.

Meanwhile, insurers are still anxiously waiting for the Trump administration or Congress to provide more certainty on whether key ObamaCare payments will be funded.

The payments, known as cost sharing reduction subsidies, reimburse insurers for providing discounted deductibles to low-income people.

The Trump administration said this week it would continue the payments, but did not say for how long.

Democrats and insurers have pushed to have the payments included in the upcoming spending bill, but that idea was rejected by House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Money: Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC | Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week | Top Republican on House tax panel to retire Trump faces test of power with early endorsements Lobbying world MORE (R-Wis.)

One insurer - Molina - threatened on Thursday to pull out of the ObamaCare exchanges if the payments were not funded through 2018. Insurers must file rates and plans by June.

Meanwhile, President Trump's FDA nominee will likely come up for a vote soon in the Senate. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee advanced Scott Gottlieb's nomination to the Senate floor on a 14-9 vote Thursday.

Gottlieb is a former FDA director of medical policy development and deputy commissioner, and the bipartisan HELP Committee vote is a sign he could be easily confirmed by the full chamber.