House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., left, talks with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La. as they arrive for a GOP caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Latest: Doctors' group opposes GOP health care bill

April 27, 2017 - 1:39 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on efforts in Congress to repeal the health care law and agree on a spending bill to keep the government open (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

The nation's largest and best-known doctors' group is opposing retooled health care legislation from House Republicans.

In a strongly worded letter to congressional leaders Thursday, the American Medical Association said recently proposed changes to the American Health Care Act do nothing to fix its shortcomings. The GOP bill would roll back much of former President Barack Obama's health overhaul, which has helped millions gain coverage.

The AMA questions the GOP bill's approach on insurance protections for patients with health problems, saying it may not work at all and allow insurers to "effectively make coverage completely unaffordable to people with pre-existing conditions."

Instead, the AMA is urging House and Senate lawmakers to seek bipartisan health care solutions, consulting with outside groups and constituents as well. The AMA has about 250,000 members.


12:05 p.m.

Speaker Paul Ryan says the House will vote on a revised health care plan "when we're ready to go," despite White House pressure for a quick vote as President Donald Trump approaches his 100th day in office.

Ryan told reporters Thursday that leaders have not made any decision on when a vote will take place. He spoke one day after the conservative House Freedom Caucus announced it supports a compromise that would let states choose not to provide essential benefits under the current law, such as coverage for pregnancy, childbirth and newborn care and prescription drugs.

Republicans were forced last month to scrap their bill repealing the Obama health care law because of opposition within the party. Ryan says moderate Republicans balking at the newest version of the plan should back the bill.


11:40 a.m.

A senior Democratic congressman says the House Oversight Committee chairman and other Republicans are not doing enough to investigate President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland is the top Democrat on the oversight panel. Cummings says he's not satisfied with the efforts of Republican chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah.

Chaffetz and Cummings said at a joint appearance Tuesday they want the Army to rule on whether Flynn, a former Army general, asked for and received permission for payments he received from Russian and Turkish entities.

But Cummings said Thursday that Chaffetz has not followed up by insisting that the White House release documents or calling Flynn to testify. Cummings says Chaffetz and other Republicans "are not helping us. And they could help us."


11:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump has fired off a series of tweets attacking Democrats over the spending bill in Congress.

Lawmakers from both parties are trying to work out differences to avoid a government shutdown. Amid tense negotiations, Trump went on a Twitter tirade Thursday, saying Democrats are blocking health care for miners and could close National Parks with a shutdown.

Trump also says Democrats want "illegals to pour through our borders" and are "jeopardizing the safety of our troops." He promises to "rebuild our military and secure our border" while "Democrats want to shut down the government."

A temporary funding bill expires Friday at midnight. Republican leaders expect to pass legislation this week to keep the government open through May 5.


11:25 a.m.

The second-ranking House Democrat is threatening to withhold votes for a short-term spending bill to keep the government open, if Republicans try to push for a health care vote this week.

Speaker Paul Ryan needs Democratic votes to keep the government open past Friday's midnight deadline. But in a statement Thursday, Democratic congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland says that if Republicans push for a vote on health care, he will oppose the spending bill and tell other Democrats to do the same.

Hoyer complains the current health care bill would let states drop essential services such as maternity care and prescription drug coverage.


11:13 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he's opposed to helping Puerto Rico resolve its $70 billion debt load.

Trump sent a tweet Thursday accusing Democrats of wanting to shut down the government if his administration doesn't bail out Puerto Rico and give what he says are billions to the island's insurance companies.

He's referring to a huge, government-wide federal spending bill being negotiated in Washington. Talks are going slowly but relatively well as negotiators sort through myriad issues.

Puerto Rico is mired in a decade-long recession in part because it borrowed billions of dollars to cover budget deficits over the decades that it cannot repay. The U.S. territory has been trying to obtain the same amount of Medicaid funding that U.S. states receive.


3:22 a.m.

Lawmakers are giving themselves a one-week extension on spending legislation to keep the lights on in government, after the White House backed off a threat to withhold payments that help lower-income Americans pay their medical bills.

It was the latest concession by the White House, which had earlier dropped a demand for money for President Donald Trump's border wall. Even with Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, the Trump administration is learning that Democrats retain significant leverage when their votes are needed on must-pass legislation.

A temporary funding bill expires Friday at midnight, and GOP leaders late Wednesday came out with a short-term spending bill through May 5 to prevent a government shutdown this weekend.

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