Back from the dead: Obamacare repeal deal near
The chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mark Meadows, says a deal to repeal and replace Obamacare is "very close."
A repeal bill never made it to the House floor last week when it became clear that it would go down to defeat. But intense negotiations between the White House and House conservatives has resulted in the outline of an agreement on how to proceed.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told a North Carolina radio station Monday that he is awaiting word from House Speaker Paul Ryan on which direction the House wants to go on Obamacare repeal.
"We're very close," Meadows said. "The biggest thing for all of us is we want to make sure we don't just have repeal, but we have a replacement that drives down insurance premiums."
The House adjourned last week after failing to reach a deal to give states the power to opt out of certain Obamacare insurance mandates. The bill to partially repeal and replace Obamacare, the American Health Care Act, was pulled last month due to insufficient support.
Meadows said that if a deal comes together then the House could vote soon, possibly even returning to Washington early. The House has recessed until April 25.
The biggest sticking point remaining for a deal is which insurance mandates states can choose to opt out.
The Freedom Caucus wants the mandates for insurers to cover people with preexisting conditions, a price control called community rating and a requirement for plans to cover 10 essential health benefits such as maternity care.
But centrist lawmakers are worried about repealing the mandates, especially for people with preexisting conditions.
Repealing some or all of those coverage mandates is the key. If successful, insurance companies will be able to offer a far wider variety of plans than they can currently sell. This should lead to many people being able to purchase more affordable insurance and do away with most subsidies.
But opposition to the AHCA came not only from conservatives. It also came from more moderate Republicans, who shrank from repealing the coverage mandates, among other objections. So the question for Speaker Ryan and the Freedom Caucus is, will there be enough support to pass the legislation?
Until a final bill is ready, we won't know. But we can be sure that whatever happens, it's going to be close.