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House to vote Thursday on health care bill

WASHINGTON — The House will vote Thursday on the GOP bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the bill will pass.

“We will be voting on the health care votes (Thursday). Because we have enough votes. It’ll pass. It’s a good bill,” McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters. “Were gonna pass it. We’re gonna pass it. Let’s be optimistic about life.”

An 11th-hour hour deal has renewed momentum for House Republicans working to repeal and replace Obamacare, as leaders Wednesday furiously lobbied undecided or skeptical lawmakers on the plan that has been teetering on the brink of collapse.

Vice President Mike Pence was on Capitol Hill. Members were walking in and out of the speaker’s office all day.

The change in mood comes after GOP Reps. Fred Upton and Billy Long met with President Donald Trump at the White House and flipped their votes.

Trump committed to backing an amendment spending $8 billion over five years to fund high-risk pools and go toward patients with pre-existing conditions.

The new yes votes mark an incremental but symbolically important victory for the White House and Republican leaders, who have been trying without success for weeks to revive a health care bill that was pulled from the House floor in March.

Other than Long and Upton, there have not been major vote switches, but several undecided members are seemingly open to the new changes.

The focus is on moderate lawmakers concerned the GOP bill will erode too many protections in Obamacare.

As originally introduced, the bill would leave 24 million fewer people insured by 2026 than under Obamacare, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said.

But the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservatives who helped scuttle the previous bill in March, now supports the legislation. Importantly, the Freedom Caucus continues to back the bill even with the new spending being added.

Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows said only one member of the group opposes the bill.

“We’re not going to lose any votes because of it,” he said.

The situation remains extremely fluid.