President Trump has pretty well burned all his bridges with the House conservatives, using his Twitter tirades to throw temper tantrums over the House Freedom Caucus’ refusal to back his disastrous Obamacare replacement bill.
That may be why for round two they’re using the soft approach of VP Mike Pence.
On Monday night, it was Pence and several White House officials who met with the House Freedom Caucus to present them with a new twist to the replacement bill, hoping to warm them to the idea.
They presented an offer to allow for state waivers for the Obamacare regulations that HFC members feel are driving up premiums on citizens.
Those two regulations detail ObamaCare’s essential health benefits, which mandate which health services insurers must cover, and “community rating,” which prevents insurers from charging sick people higher premiums.
Conservatives had previously called for the bill to repeal those regulations outright, but the deal now being discussed would give states a choice by allowing them to apply for a waiver from the federal government.
Freedom Caucus members expressed openness to the proposal, but cautioned that they need to review the legislative text, which they hoped would be available within the next 24 hours.
Apparently, the White House is really pressing to have this put forward within the next week, but they have yet to assuage the doubts of conservatives, as Rep. Mark Meadows cautioned.
“There is no deal in principle; there is a solid idea that was offered,” Meadows told reporters after the meeting.
“We’re certainly encouraged by the progress we seem to be making,” he added.
That’s Washington code for, “Meh.”
The House conservatives are asking for complete repeal of those regulations. Without opportunity to thoroughly review the language put forth about these state waivers, they’re not ready to rush forward with a “yes” vote.
To that point, Meadows also pointed out that no one who was a “no” the first time around has changed their mind after meeting with Pence and the other officials last night.
While Meadows emphasized that the ban on denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions would not be repealed, Democratic health experts point out that allowing insurers to charge sick people higher rates could effectively put coverage out of reach.
Meadows argued that a “stability fund” under the measure could subsidize higher premiums to bring down the cost for sick people. Lawmakers are also looking at better directing those $115 billion in stability fund dollars to target them toward reducing premiums.
Meadows further pointed out that if the White House tries to rush a vote this week, the Congressional Budget Office would have no time to analyze cost, so Congress would be voting on a bill with no idea of cost or coverage effects.
Basically, it would be more, “We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in the bill.”