Affordable Care Act

Republican worries over congressional special elections haven't entirely reached South Carolina's 5th District — yet.

At a GOP candidate forum Thursday night in Rock Hill, five of the candidates vying to succeed former Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who left to direct the White House's Office of Management and Budget, were virtually united on most major issues facing their party and in their praise of President Trump.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau present the most detailed picture yet of the dramatic rise in the number of people covered by health insurance since the Affordable Care Act went into effect.

County-level data going back to 2010, when the law was signed, show a patchwork of people living without health insurance that ticked down slowly for the first three years under the ACA. But once the online insurance exchanges opened at the end of 2013 and Medicaid expanded, the population living without coverage dropped noticeably.

The Affordable Care Act's worst enemies are now in charge of the vast range of health coverage the law created. They're also discussing changes that could affect a wider net of employment-based policies and Medicare coverage for seniors.

Although Republicans failed last month in their first attempt to repeal and replace the ACA, President Donald Trump vows the effort will continue. And even if Congress does nothing, Trump has suggested he might sit by and "let Obamacare explode."

President Trump may have said he is ready to move on, but the House Freedom Caucus can't let health care go.

The same firebrand conservatives who helped derail the GOP's long-awaited legislation to repeal and replace key parts of the Affordable Care Act are now trying to breathe new life into the bill with a long shot effort to bring it back for a vote in May.

Updated at 9:45 a.m. ET

The House Freedom Caucus is resurgent.

The group of roughly 36 hard-line conservatives was at the leading edge of Republican opposition during the Obama years. It wasn't clear how relevant the caucus would be with a Republican in the White House.

Even as they lick their wounds from a failed Affordable Care Act repeal effort, Republican leaders in Washington are looking ahead to the next battle — over taxes.

"I would say that we will probably start going very, very strongly for the big tax cuts and tax reform," President Trump told reporters Friday. "That will be next."

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan agreed, though he conceded that the defeat on health care was a setback.

"This does make tax reform more difficult," Ryan said. "But it does not in any way make it impossible."

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

House Republicans scrapped a vote on their health care replacement plan on Friday after defections from both the right and center that made it clear the bill would not pass.

"Obamacare is the law of the land. It is going to remain the law of the land," House Speaker Paul Ryan admitted shortly after he pulled the bill. "We're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future. I don't know how long it's going to take us to replace this law."

Throughout the campaign, President Trump billed himself as a master negotiator who would make the "best deals" for the American people.

The U.S. Senate has a lot going on: confirmation hearings for a Supreme Court nominee, negotiations on repealing the Affordable Care Act, votes on gun sales regulations and bear-hunting rules for Alaska.

Updated at 9:48 p.m. ET

The White House issued an ultimatum to House Republicans on Thursday: Vote for the current GOP health care replacement plan or leave the Affordable Care Act in place and suffer the political consequences.

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