Lawmakers say votes aren't there for health care

 WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on an effort in Congress to pass a health care bill (all times local):

   1:20 p.m. 

   House Republican leaders were short of the votes needed for their health care overhaul bill hours ahead of a vote demanded by President Donald Trump. 

   That's the word Friday from GOP lawmakers and congressional aides as Speaker Paul Ryan met with the president at the White House to deliver the sobering news. 

   Separately, Vice President Mike Pence was meeting near the Capitol with recalcitrant members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus in a last-ditch effort to secure support. 

   Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., told reporters, "As of right now, I'm not sure that we are across the finish line. We've still got three or four hours and there's still discussions happening."

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   12:40 p.m.

   Democrats and some veterans groups say a provision of the Republican health care bill could raise costs for millions of veterans who use tax credits to buy private insurance. An amendment to the bill would make veterans who are not enrolled in government care ineligible for health-care tax credits.

   Republicans said the veterans' provision could be added back into the bill later.

   Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who lost both legs in combat in Iraq, said Republicans either were "intentionally sacrificing veterans and putting them on a chopping block" or wrote the bill so "haphazardly" they don't know what's in it.

   Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz, the top Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs panel, called the GOP plan "shameful" and said it would leave many veterans without affordable insurance options.

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   12:30 p.m.

   House Speaker Paul Ryan is at the White House to brief President Donald Trump on the state of play on the health care bill.

   The visit comes ahead of a planned showdown vote on the legislation later in the day Friday.

   The outcome was looking dicey with the legislation apparently still short of votes around midday, and few public signs that the situation was changing.

   A group of conservative hold-outs had yet to swing in favor despite lobbying from Trump and others, while opposition also came from moderate-leaning and rank-and-file Republicans.

   The legislation is the GOP's long-promised bill to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's health care law. Trump decided Thursday that negotiations were over and it was time to vote.

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   12:25 p.m.

   House Democrats are trying to make the vote on the House GOP health plan personal for their Republican counterparts.

   After each Republican speaks on the House floor in favor of the bill, Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., cites the number of people in their congressional district who will lose health insurance under the bill.

   Under the bill, 24 million fewer people will have health insurance by 2026, according to congressional estimates.

   Rep. Clay Higgins, a Republican from Louisiana, proclaimed that a vote against the bill is "a vote against freedom."

   Yarmuth replied that the bill would result in 50,100 people from his Higgins' congressional district losing health coverage.

   Republicans disputed the numbers. They noted that Yarmuth got his congressional district estimates from the Center for American Progress, a liberal advocacy group.

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   11:05 a.m.

   Republicans have pushed the GOP health care overhaul past an initial procedural hurdle in the House. That moves the chamber toward a climactic final vote that's a big gamble for President Donald Trump and congressional leaders.

   Friday's procedural vote was 230-194.

   The early vote inserted changes into the measure that leaders hoped would win over unhappy Republicans. It would improve Medicaid benefits for some older and handicapped people and abolish coverage requirements President Barack Obama's 2010 law imposes on insurers.

   It remained uncertain whether GOP leaders had enough votes to prevail on final passage.

   Conservatives complain the Republican bill doesn't do enough to erase Obama's law. GOP moderates are unhappy that it would cause millions of voters to lose coverage and boost medical costs for others.

   Democrats were solidly opposed.

 

  

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