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White House pushes uncertain bid to revive health care bill

22 April, 2017, 01:40 | Author: Eddie Kim
  • White House pushes uncertain bid to revive health care bill

"The plan gets better and better and better".

The new proposal - brokered by Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., of the moderate Tuesday Group and Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., of the far-right Freedom Caucus - is like a parody, as if life-or-death access to health care were fodder for a "Saturday Night Live" sketch.

The problems that prevent Republicans from passing a health care bill remain the same as they ever were.

States could request an exemption from the rule meant to ensure that people with pre-existing conditions could not be charged prohibitive premiums, but only if those states establish a high-risk insurance pool.

This GOP amendment to let states waive community rating would once again allow insurers to charge people based on their expected health care costs.

To receive the waiver, though, states must set up a high-risk insurance pool or participate in the federal high-risk pool.

In 2011, ME overhauled its system, creating what is called an invisible high-risk pool for individuals with pre-existing conditions.

Lawmakers are looking at allowing states to obtain waivers to opt out of some of these protections, but requiring states to attest that the waiver's goal is to reduce the cost of health care or increase the number of insured.

MacArthur also stressed that he had abandoned the GOP battle cry of "repeal and replace" on Obamacare and has instead begun describing the Republican alternative as a "repair". After the administration's initial failure to pass the bill through the House of Representatives, the White House hopes new changes to the bill will please the conservative holdouts in the Freedom Caucus.

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Capitol Hill sources said an amendment to the GOP-sponsored American Health Care Act would be circulated to the Republican caucus in a matter of hours - a series of Band-aid patches created to make the bill palatable to both the centrist and conservative wings of the GOP.

At the top of the list is so-called 'essential health benefits, ' a minimum standard of mandated benefits that conservatives believe drives up the cost of insurance.

A Republican leadership aide said that no vote is scheduled on the health care bill, an indication that this plan has not yet garnered enough consensus.

But one of the major stumbling blocks for the first AHCA vote was that the Congressional Budget Office predicted that 24 million people would lose coverage by 2024 if the bill became law.

"My first instinct is that if you don't give me time to read something, there's probably something there that I'm not going to like, and that's why you're rushing it through", Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., told The Daily Signal. "I'm paying three to four times what I was paying".

Biggs, a member of the Freedom Caucus, said he still has questions about the plan, which resembles an offer put forth by Vice President Mike Pence before Republicans departed for their home districts for Easter recess. The legislation was drafted in secret and rushed through the Insurance Committee and the legislature at breakneck speed, without allowing vetting or amendment.

White House officials, desperate to demonstrate progress on President Donald Trump's promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, are pushing to resurrect a Republican health-care bill before his 100th day in office next week.

"I know that our team has continued to work with members of the House in particular to see if there's a way forward", Spicer said.

He said the ACHA "gets better and better and better - and it has gotten really, really good".

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