From the moment it came into the world, many people didn't take the American Health Care Act seriously, so it's not surprising that the AHCA ultimately failed Friday afternoon The bill's meme-inspiring debut foreshadowed its ultimate fate, which, embarrassingly, was decided by House Republicans themselves on Friday. Now that the bill is DOA, a replacement for the Obamacare replacement will be even harder to achieve, and it may take some actual legislating on behalf of Congressional Republicans.
The decision, made by Trump and passed on to Paul Ryan on Friday morning, according to the AP, means that the bill will be sent back to its committees for revision, where it could once again be changed and sent back to the floor for another vote.
The problem for Republicans trying to replace Obamacare was twofold — liberals who thought the bill is way too conservative, and far right wingers who thought the bill wasn't conservative enough. Because the AHCA came out so quickly and with little input from the Democrats or fringe Republicans, there was almost no chance of it passing in the first place. If the Freedom caucus really wants the reform to pass, the next step in their replacement process needs to be a more formal and open dialogue among Congress about what will and won't be agreeable.
Furthermore, the Republicans want to make sure their legislation is lasting, and not just through Congressional takeover. Based on the backlash against Donald Trump, it's very likely that the balance of power in the White House and Congress will swing back to the left within the next eight years at least. The next president and Congress could dismantle the Republicans' bill just as easily, (if not more), as they're doing it to President Obama's. Without real, adjudicated, bipartisan compromise on healthcare, the legacy of healthcare reform will belong to the Democratic Party, and the Republicans need to make sure they're a part of that to stay relevant in the future.
What's definitely not going to happen is Republicans walking away from healthcare as an issue. The Congressional Republican caucus has been like a dog with a bone for the last eight years, so even after this embarrassing defeat, you can be sure that they're going to keep trying to achieve new legislation.