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Moderates balk at conservative-backed, revised health bill

Moderates balk at conservative-backed, revised health bill

The Club for Growth, which has spent millions to defeat Republican lawmakers deemed not conservative enough, has changed its mind on the GOP House legislation repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act - and on the author of the amendment, New Jersey's Tom MacArthur.

The plan was crafted by Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., a leader of the moderate House Tuesday Group along with Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican from a swing district in Colorado, said he'd been supportive of leadership's first bill, but without seeing the amendment, which had not yet been leaked widely to the media, he said he didn't know where he stood on it. "Take your time. Get the good vote and make it ideal'".

The so-called MacArthur Amendment would allow states to apply for waivers for federal rules and allow insurers to charge those with preexisting conditions more than others.

But it comes down to this: To pass a measure out of the House and give themselves a supposed accomplishment, and to be able to argue that they are holding down basic health-insurance premiums, Republicans in the House are proposing to subject sick people to myriad and probably uneven systems set up in their various states and to punitive premiums for the crime of being sick.

"The MacArthur amendment will grant states the ability to repeal cost driving aspects of Obamacare left in place under the original AHCA", the Freedom Caucus said in a statement.

Pressure from the White House, combined with fresh support from conservatives, could put intense pressure on moderates to vote for the bill.

Trump pressed the House to act on a health care bill this week to redeem himself after suffering an embarrassing setback on healthcare in late March and to top off his first 100 days in office.

Other members of the Freedom Caucus who previously didn't support the bill, including Representative Dave Brat of Virginia, and DesJarlais, said they now support the measure.

"Those are the kind of concerns that obviously make me have to think long and hard about it", said moderate Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) on Wednesday.

Their amendment was being circulated among members today and is expected to be discussed at a Wednesday morning GOP conference meeting and a Freedom Caucus gathering later in the day.

"That was the No. 1 issue in my campaign", said McCain, who was re-elected last fall.

This Republican House bill would replace Obamacare with something Republicans say would be cheaper, but, if so, only because of less-comprehensive coverage and a transfer of expensive sick people from the basic insurance pool to their own higher-priced but presumably subsidized pool.

But there are complications, including the revelation that the new amendment would treat health coverage for lawmakers and their staffs differently by barring waivers for their insurance plans. Through a federal waiver, insurers could be freed from a requirement to cover certain essential health benefits as defined by the federal government. And its community rating measure prevents insurers from charging more to people based on health history or gender.

While the White House was eager for a vote this week, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., wants to avoid an encore of last month's embarrassment on the bill.

Before the Easter break, Dent said that members of the Tuesday Group had asked leaders of the group not to negotiate one-on-one with Meadows.

But Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., remained a "no". "It would also require states to petition the federal government for a temporary waiver from some Obamacare mandates".

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., denounced this portion of the bill.

All that goes to say that Republicans truly could be closer to passing a health bill in the House for now.


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