A growing number of House members are predicting that Speaker Paul Ryan will be forced to cancel Friday's vote on repealing and replacing Obamacare due to increasing defections of GOP moderates after the White House attempted to force a deal aimed at luring support from the conservative Freedom Caucus.
The House was originally scheduled to vote on the bill Thursday but the Freedom Caucus opposition led Ryan to delay bringing the legislation to the House floor.
A second canceled vote would be an embarrassment for President Trump, who said Thursday he was done negotiating with the Freedom Caucus and told lawmakers that if the health care bill doesn't pass Friday he'll move on to tax reform and congressional Republicans will risk leaving Obamacare in place.
A vote on Friday was known to be a gamble, but as Republicans were polled by their leaders about where they were leaning it has become clear defeat is nearly certain. According to press reports, Trump is urging a vote anyway, which could at least make some GOP members second guess voting against the bill if they are forced to go on record where they stand with one of the GOP's top priorities.
But Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, tweeted Friday afternoon that there was a good chance the vote would be postponed again and that the House leadership appeared to the "hiding likely more NON-Freedom Caucus 'No' votes than Freedom Caucus 'No' votes."
Passage of the bill is seen by Wall Street as a test as to whether a Trump administration can fulfill ts other promises to American businesses, particularly tax and regulatory reform. Doubts about the administration's ability to act caused by the slow progress of health care sent stocks down this week to their lowest levels of the year.
The legislation was expected to include the the bill approved by various House committees and an amendment containing sweeteners designed to bring at least some of the Freedom Caucus's members on board. Among the amendment's provisions will be one that eliminates the underlying health care bill's 10 essential health benefit requirements, including the requirement that health plans not deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
The Freedom Caucus has 29 members total and the GOP can afford to lose only 21 votes and still achieve the 216 votes need to pass the bill, assuming Democrats remain united against the bill.
Should the legislation ultimately be enacted, the biggest beneficiaries among public companies are likely to be the largest health insurers, including Anthem (ANTM) - Get Report , UnitedHealth (UNH) - Get Report , Cigna (CI) - Get Report and Humana (HUM) - Get Report .
Hospital stocks such as Community Health (CYH) - Get Report , Tenet Healthcare (THC) - Get Report , HCA (HCA) - Get Report and LifePoint Hospitals (LPNT) are likely to suffer from cuts to health care providers' revenue.