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Washington • After last week's surgery on a 12-year-old foot injury, a temporarily wheelchair-using Rep. Jason Chaffetz will return to the Capitol this week to vote on the GOP's bill to replace the Affordable Care Act that could allow states to opt out of coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Chaffetz, R-Utah, had expected to be away from Washington for weeks as he recovered from what he said his doctor called a much-needed, time-sensitive operation. But his quick turnaround he was being released Monday from the hospital shows the GOP on the hunt for every single vote to get to the 216 required to pass the bill in the House.
Chaffetz and Utah's three other House members are expected to be supportive of the legislation. A vote has not been scheduled.
Republicans have scrambled to secure the support to pass their American Health Care Act, which leaders pulled from a House vote last month in the face of a revolt by conservative lawmakers. A new amendment that would give states the option of covering pre-existing conditions may have helped attract the House Freedom Caucus, which had balked at the expense of the GOP measure.
Chaffetz could not be reached for comment but his office confirmed he would return for the vote; it was unclear how long the congressman would stay in Washington.
Chaffetz hurt his foot about a dozen years ago, when he fell off a ladder while working in his garage, he said. He shattered several bones, requiring 14 screws and a metal plate to be installed to repair the damage.
His doctor said he needed surgery to avoid worsening the injury, the congressman said last week as he expected to miss the next three to four weeks of congressional work in Washington.
President Donald Trump had said he expects there will be a guarantee for those with pre-existing conditions a prime component of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, a law that Trump and the Republicans have railed on for seven years.
But an amendment to the GOP health care bill would allow states to opt out of that guarantee or allow insurers to charge higher premiums for those with such conditions.
Chaffetz, who has said he won't run for anything in 2018 and may step down early, gets insurance through the Obamacare-initiated marketplace, as was mandated for members of Congress when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law.