Striking Three Things From GOP Health Plan Would Win Freedom Caucus Votes

Conservatives make wish list as repeal bill founders

Representative Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina), chairman of the far-right Freedom Caucus, has told the press that most of his group would support the House GOP’s plan to overhaul the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) if three of the act’s insurer regulations were dropped, according to a report from The Hill.

Last month, Caucus members voted against the American Health Care Act (AHCA), saying it did nothing to lower insurance premiums. Their resistance led to the bill being withdrawn by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).

In an effort to sway Caucus members, Vice President Mike Pence offered this week to kill three regulations: essential health benefits, which mandate what services insurers must cover; community rating, which says insurers can’t charge sick people more for insurance; and guaranteed issue, which says insurers must cover people with pre-existing conditions.

“The majority of the Freedom Caucus would be favorably inclined to vote for that,” Meadows said, adding: “We’ve got to act to lower premiums. Until I’m convinced that [the AHCA] does that, we won’t vote yes.”

The proposed changes would have to be accompanied by an amendment creating an “invisible” federal high-risk pool for people with costly medical conditions with high premiums, Meadows said. That amendment is expected to be added to the bill through the House Rules Committee.

The Hill points out, however, that moderate Republicans are unlikely to support a health care plan that eliminates those three key regulations, making passage in the House an “iffy” proposition.

Source: The Hill; April 6, 2017.