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GOP strips essential benefits from healthcare bill ahead of do-or-die Friday vote

The amendments also delay the repeal of Medicare tax cuts for the country's highest earners until 2023.

Republican House leadership on Thursday night made one last attempt to appease conservatives on the fence about the American Health Care Act by stripping provisions that mandate insurers cover essential benefits and pushing them down to the states to define.

The amendments also delays the repeal of Medicare tax cuts for the country's highest earners until 2023 and creates a $15 billion fund to support states in funding maternity, mental health and substance abuse treatment since coverage would no longer be guaranteed under the essential health benefits provision.

The move is seen as an attempt to sway support from members of the House Freedom Caucus, but it is unclear it those changes will chase away moderates.

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[Also: Paul Ryan delays American Health Care Act vote amid mixed GOP support]

The changes also raise more speculation about whether the Senate can approve a bill that so heavily leans toward conservative healthcare ideals.

Either way, the House is set to vote Friday on the bill after President Donald Trump issued an ultimatum that the chamber vote on the bill before the weekend.

"After seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!" Trump tweeted early Friday.

However, the president did take a last-minute shot at conservatives who may vote down the bill.

"The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!" he tweeted.

Twitter: @HenryPowderly
Contact the author: henry.powderly@himssmedia.com