AHCA

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."

A last-minute attempt by conservative Republicans to dump standards for health benefits in plans sold to individuals would probably lower the average person's upfront insurance costs, such as premiums and deductibles, say analysts on both sides of the debate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

But it will very likely also induce insurers to offer much skimpier plans, potentially excluding the gravely ill and putting consumers at greater financial risk if they need care.

Adora Namigadde

While the U.S. House of Representatives delays a vote on the American Health Care Act originally scheduled for Thursday evening, government and healthcare officials from Central Ohio spoke out against the bill at a forum at Columbus' Reeb Avenue Center.

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.

Republicans will be tested today on the strength of party unity in the Trump era and their party's ability to deliver on the promises they've made to the voters that sent them here.

"This is our chance and this is our moment. It's a big moment," House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters earlier this week. "And I think our members are beginning to appreciate just what kind of a 'rendezvous with destiny' we have right here."

Lawrence Jackson / The White House

The vote has been delayed, but Republican leaders are still aiming to pass their health care proposal.

The bill under consideration in the House of Representatives would change health coverage for a lot of people. The American Health Care Act would no longer require that Americans buy health insurance, for instance, and it would eliminate current subsidies, replacing them with a fixed refundable tax credit.

The Affordable Care Act's tax penalty for people who opt out of health insurance is one of the most loathed parts of the law, so it is no surprise that Republicans are keen to abolish it. But the penalty, also called the individual mandate, plays a vital function: nudging healthy people into the insurance markets, where their premiums help pay for the cost of care for the sick. Republican lawmakers think they have a better alternative.

Donald Trump likes to move fast.

But to this point, for all the bravado, executive actions and tweets, much of Trump's presidency has been showy without a lot of practical effect. For that to change, much could depend on the next three weeks. This critical phase could set his ambitious agenda on course or derail it.

The debate over how many people would lose health insurance under the Republican health care overhaul and its impact on the budget deficit obscures one of the major and most far-reaching effects of the proposal: sweeping changes to Medicaid.