Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
Culture | By Stewart Greene

White House pushes uncertain bid to revive health care bill

A substantial number of members of the Republican House conference have maximalist ideas about Obamacare repeal, and can't abide leaving a lot of the law's spending and (especially) insurance regulations in place.

House GOP leaders aren't singing the same tune.

But because of the conservatives, they won't provide the funding experts say is necessary to really make those high-risk pools work.

"I believe that when we first go back, that's going to be the thing we'll address immediately and have to get done by Friday", said Rep. Dan Donovan, R-N.Y.

GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who supported the Republican health care legislation known as the American Health Care Act, has been in touch with his colleagues in the House as well as the White House about health care over Congress' two-week recess, which wraps next week.

"I think it's doable", he said of a vote. "As soon as we solve that, we can have a vote", he said. Although people with preexisting conditions would be eligible for some sort of coverage no matter what a state does, obtaining a waiver from the ObamaCare regs would mean the federal "community rating" requirement would no longer apply. The end result would allow insurers to charge people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums based on those conditions. To obtain a federal waiver from the relevant ObamaCare regs, a state would either have to join a federal high-risk pool for those consumers or set up one of their own.

But the plan also allows states to waive those protections.

A proposed amendment leaked Wednesday is an attempt to bridge the gap between moderate House Republicans in the Tuesday Group and conservative lawmakers in the House Freedom Caucus to generate enough votes to pass the bill.

The original bill was pulled from the House in late March before a vote.

A vote next week-occurring at the same time Congress debates a government spending bill-would give lawmakers little time to read the plan. Recall that last time the House leadership tried to ram through a bill without full committee consideration or even so much as a Congressional Budget Office scoring, it flopped.

"There is no legislative text yet for the MacArthur-Meadows agreement that has been floating around, and until there is legislative text, there would not be a whip count". He has cited reservations over how the legislation affects seniors and provisions that would particularly disadvantage New York City. "If they tell us, however, that they recognize that President Trump won an election, and he should get some of his priorities funded for that reason, elections have consequences, as folks who win always like to say".

"It's unbelievable the diverse things you hear from different people", Cole said, noting the responses range from "'it's hopeless" to "Oh, it's going to get there'". The concessions also might not be enough for some conservatives, who have expressed issue with Republicans establishing an advance refundable tax credit to help pay for insurance.

Nevertheless, the White House thinks it's nearing the 216 votes needed to pass health care reform through the U.S. House. Adding to the uncertainty, members told Independent Journal Review they still haven't seen text of the amended bill.

Illustrating the uphill climb for the new changes, many Republican lawmakers have spoken in favor of keeping ObamaCare protections for people with pre-existing conditions. A CNN poll taken last month found 87 percent in favor of keeping O-Care's protections regarding preexisting conditions; another poll taken in December found 69 percent support forcing insurers to cover people with those conditions.

A study from the liberal Center for American Progress, released Thursday, finds that repealing community rating would lead to sharp premium increases for sick people, such as roughly $4,000 for those with asthma or as much as $71,000 for those with severe cancer.

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