House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told a closed-door meetingof House Republicans Tuesday that "now is the time" to repeal Obamacare and that they should beprepared to vote Wednesday or Thursday on the party’s health-carebill.

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Representative Dennis Ross of Florida, a senior member of theHouse vote-counting team, said they are about "five votes away"from the number needed to pass the bill.

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But a significant number of moderates remain opposed to themeasure. A Bloomberg News count found at least 21 members opposedto the latest version. Republicans can only afford to lose 22 votesand guarantee passage.

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Perhaps the most significant defection yet came Tuesday, whenFred Upton of Michigan told a local radio station he would voteagainst the current bill. Until last year, Upton chaired the Energyand Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over much ofhealth-care policy, and has been a staunch supporter of Obamacare repeal.

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"I told the leadership I cannot support the bill with thisprovision in it," he said about changes made to requirements aboutcovering people with pre-existing conditions. "It’s not going to getmy ‘yes’ vote the way it is."

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As of Monday night, Ross said that even the Republicanvote-counting team isn’t entirely on board with backing the revisedhealth-care measure, adding that as many as seven of its membershadn’t yet committed to doing so.

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“The longer we wait, the more it’s going to fester,” hesaid.

‘Pray’ for vote

House Speaker Paul Ryan told his conference Tuesday to "pray" asthey try to wrangle the remaining holdouts, Ross said. "This is whowe are. This will define us," Ryan told them.

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"And McCarthy said look, this will define us. It’s no longerabout what we should do or how we should do it. Now is the time todo it," said Ross, quoting the No. 2 House Republican.

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“We’re just a handful of votes away," House Freedom CaucusChairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina said Tuesday.

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Meadows said he didn’t think there would be additional changesto the measure.

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"There’s always those prospects, but at this point you have tofigure out whether you’re going to gain or lose votes based onthat," he said. "That will be a hard calculation right now."

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Several Republicans, including Representative Brian Mast ofFlorida, say they’re still undecided.

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One problem is that recent changes made to the bill to win overconservative holdouts have alienated some GOP moderates.

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Under an amendment to the Republican plan, states could letinsurers charge older customers more than the original bill allowed-- at least five times more than younger ones, beginning in 2018.States could also allow insurers to charge higher premiums forpeople with pre-existing conditions who have had a gap in coverageof at least 63 days in the prior year.

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