“We can keep working this for weeks now”
House Republicans held meetings late into Tuesday night, hoping to find some consensus on health insurance reform before the upcoming recess to no avail.
By all accounts, there’s still no other Obamacare repeal plan and so lawmakers, including Vice President Pence, are still trying to make the failed American Healthcare Act (AHCA) work.
There was not legislative text presented at the meeting as lawmakers continued to debate what changes would be made, despite hopes by the conservative House Freedom Caucus that the text would be made available for them to review.
Conservatives are facing pushback from other lawmakers as they seek to allow states to apply for waivers to repeal ObamaCare protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which they argue are driving up premiums.
Those protections are known as “community rating,” which prevents insurers from charging sick people more, and “guaranteed issue,” which prevents insurers from denying coverage to sick people.
Conservatives argue high-risk pool funding would help people with pre-existing conditions get coverage, but Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) acknowledged objections from more moderate members to removing regulations on pre-existing conditions.
“Even though we have a high risk pool that deals with this, I think there’s probably a lot more concern over the guaranteed issue portion of that and what that may mean,” Meadows said leaving the meeting.
Lawmakers said they plan to meet again on Wednesday to continue the search for an agreement, but there are doubts from many corners about whether a deal is possible anytime soon.
Representatives from each GOP faction were present:
The meeting included Pence as well as the leaders of different House GOP factions: Meadows, Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.), and moderate Tuesday Group co-Chairman Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.). House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) were also among the small group attending.
Walker said there was “great consensus” on high-risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions, but he didn’t go into detail. He said the group would meet Wednesday to discuss ObamaCare Title I regulations.
Speaker Ryan told reporters he found the meeting to be “very productive” saying they’d set no deadline to come to a deal, contra to the media narrative suggesting Republicans must move quickly. “We can keep working this for weeks now,” Ryan said. “We’ve got time to figure this out.”
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