Ryan on ObamaCare overhaul: 'Real progress' being made

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Thursday that “real progress” is being made in a revamped effort by Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare.

Ryan highlighted a new amendment by two House lawmakers that would restructure risk pools in the plan. “High-risk pools” are a mechanism to subsidize more expensive insurance coverage for those who are seriously ill.

The House Rules Committee met Thursday afternoon to consider the amendment offered by Reps. Gary Palmer of Alabama and David Schweikert of Arizona – both of whom are members of the Freedom Caucus, the group that effectively blocked the first health care bill brought by Ryan.

They voted 9-3 to advance the amendment, which will next go to the House floor for a full vote, though no schedule has been set.

House members then headed home for a two-week recess Thursday. Republicans still face deep divisions in their party over the best way to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Before lawmakers left, Ryan tried to strike an optimistic tone and praised the Palmer-Schweikert amendment.

“Their amendment makes this a much better bill,” Ryan said Thursday.  “This amendment alone is real progress and it will help us build momentum toward delivering on our pledge to the country.”

Ryan added that there are other ideas Republicans are working on to build consensus but did not provide details.

Ryan, who had publicly guaranteed a win with the Republican plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare, was forced to call off a floor vote on the measure two weeks ago after it became clear he did not have enough support from members of his own party.

Ryan and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price helped craft the bill that would have scaled back the federal role in health care and cut taxes for the wealthy. Deep differences emerged within the GOP over the bill.

The defeat came at the hands of conservative members in Ryan’s own party. At the time, Ryan admitted “we’re going to be living with ObamaCare for the foreseeable future.”

Virtually every congressional Republican won election promising to repeal ObamaCare. With a Republican in the White House, that passage seemed almost a done deal.

After the debacle, Trump told Republican leaders he would be moving on with his agenda and focusing on tax reform. However, since then, Trump has made public statements that indicate the push to overhaul former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law is still a priority for the White House.

On Wednesday, Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy met with President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.