Congressional Conservatives Threaten to Scuttle Obamacare Repeal

Lawmakers reject “Obamacare Lite”

Conservative leaders in the House and Senate have said they won’t support the alternative to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that House Republicans have formulated, saying they’ll let the bill fail if they don’t get concessions, according to a report posted on the Politico website.

In separate television interviews, Representatives Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina), chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the group’s vice chairman, said they want the chance to amend the legislation in exchange for their votes. Both men—along with their Senate ally Rand Paul (R-Kentucky)—have scoffed at the proposed replacement plan, calling it “Obamacare Lite.” They are appealing to President Trump to support the modification of health care tax credits and the Medicaid expansion phase-out, among other items.

“We’ve got to lower health care premiums … and this current plan doesn’t effectively lower health care premiums,” Meadows said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “If we don’t do that, then we just have Obamacare by another name.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and other GOP leaders have argued that members face a “binary choice” between the status quo of the PPACA or the House replacement plan as it now stands.

Speaking with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” Jordan rejected that idea, saying: “Seems to me the ‘binary choice,’ if there is one here, is to say … ‘Either work with us or you don’t end up getting the votes.’”

He added: “This idea that [House Republican leaders] had the bill hidden away, introduced it five days ago, and now you have to take it or leave it? That’s not how American democracy works. We’d like a chance to amend it, change it, and make it consistent with the message we told the voters we’d accomplish.”

Meanwhile, Trump and top administration officials are trying to woo conservatives into backing the bill. Trump dined with Meadows and Jordan at the White House last week, and Freedom Caucus members have been invited to go bowling at the White House in the coming days.

“Right now, I think there’s a charm offensive going on. Everybody is being nice to everybody because they want us to vote for this,” Paul said on CBS' “Face the Nation.” “But we’re not going to vote for it.”

Source: Politico; March 12, 2017.