US Republicans hit new snags in push to revive healthcare bill

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes R-Calif. is pursued by reporters as he leaves Capitol Hill in Washington Thursday

US Republicans hit new snags in push to revive healthcare bill

The current version of the GOP legislation would erase that coverage requirement but let states reimpose it themselves, an idea that is opposed by numerous party's moderates.

"All of us want an agreement", Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told reporters after two dozen lawmakers from both ends of the GOP spectrum huddled with Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials. Meetings will continue Wednesday.

The amendment that will get a vote Thursday is a small step forward and comes from two members of the House Freedom Caucus, the conservative group of rabble rousers that has taken a large share of the blame for the bill's collapse two weeks ago.

That, though, is not enough for moderate Republicans.

In a memo sent to GOP members Thursday morning, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested leaders could bring members back from recess early to vote on the bill if the ongoing talks yield additional progress. There was a reason why the bill polled at only 17%, Jordan said, "we didn't really have actual amendments were accepted in the committee process - I think you had done all that you might have got a product that was better than 17% approval rating". He said talks were in "the conceptual stage" and declined to predict a vote before Congress leaves town shortly for a two-week recess - when lawmakers could face antagonistic grilling from voters at town hall meetings.

Later Tuesday, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., his party's chief vote counter, said discussions were not "where there is consensus" on health care and indicated a vote this week was unlikely. Among themselves, some members of Congress anxious a floor vote on the health care bill would surely fail and could sink their prospects of remaining in the majority after the 2018 elections. Conservatives have argued that such requirements have the effect of inflating insurance costs.

Reaction from rank-and-file GOP lawmakers was mixed. Justin Amash, R-Mich., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, .

"We built them a bridge", said Collins.

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a member of the Freedom Caucus, said most members of the group would be on board with a health care agreement if it also allowed states to apply for exemptions from certain Title I benefits, which include numerous ACA's consumer protections. "We're going to get back together tomorrow at a time to be determined", Meadows told reporters. He added, "That's the calculation we have to make".

That schism, coupled with total opposition to the bill by the Democratic minority in the House, has put the GOP in the awkward position of being unable, for now, to achieve their long-desired goal of gutting the ACA, despite having majority control of Congress.

Republicans say their bill includes a fallback option for people with health problems.

Tuesday Group co-chairman Tom MacArthur said he didn't know if the amendment would win any votes on its own. President Donald Trump ran on a campaign promise to get rid of the legislation; House Republicansunveiled the Trumpcare plan to repeal and replace it on March 6, soon after his inauguration.

About 2 in 3 were glad the House GOP bill didn't pass last month.

The old reinsurance program under the ACA provided $20 billion in funding over three years for these funds, which still struggled to keep some costs under control even then.

But some high-risk pools operating before passage of the Affordable Care Act were not financially viable, and Avalere Health President Dan Mendelson warned the same thing could happen again, given this group's extremely high medical expenses.

Latest News