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Leading GOP moderate opposes plan to move House health bill

27 April 2017, 03:55 | Laverne Osborne

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Getty Images

Orrin Hatch, R-Utah listens to a reporter's question before a policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 25, 2017.

Ryan spoke to reporters after leaders briefed rank-and-file Republicans on details of changes to the legislation aimed at breathing life back into one of Trump's premier but most problematic priorities. While erasing Obama's statute is solidly opposed by Democrats, the budget measure will need support from both parties because GOP conservatives often oppose spending legislation.

"The key to getting this across the finish line doesn't rest with the Tuesday Group, it rests with the Freedom Caucus", said Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), a member of the centrist group, earlier Tuesday.

To that point, a separate poll from WSJ/NBC News out Tuesday shows a 16-point drop in confidence in the GOP when it comes to health care, with 50 percent saying they now have little to no confidence in the Republicans' ability to improve things. They are certain to come under intense lobbying from the White House and party leaders to jump on board.

Mulvaney sparred with Pelosi over the phone on Tuesday evening over health care and in a series of public statements on Wednesday.

To gain support for the bill, bargainers from the GOP's conservative and moderate camps have proposed letting states get federal waivers to ignore coverage requirements that Obama's statute has imposed on insurers. States could also scrap the community rating, allowing insurers to charge people with preexisting conditions far more.

Much of the renewed optimism stems from new support within the House Freedom Caucus, a group of about three dozen staunch conservatives.

"Generally speaking, there's a lot of optimism", Meadows said.

Other members of the Freedom Caucus who previously didn't support the bill, including Representative Dave Brat of Virginia, and DesJarlais, said they now support the measure.

The group of roughly 30 hard-line conservatives held out for weeks, scuttling a planned House vote on the bill last month after it became clear there was't [sic] enough Republican support to pass it.

The concession for moderates was that the ACA's Essential Health Benefits requirement-which mandates 10 broad coverage areas insurers must offer-was no longer fully gutted as it was in the original bill but rather optional for states. To obtain the waiver, states would have to provide sick people priced out of commercial insurance access to a so-called high-risk pool run by the federal government, or establish their own, and satisfy other conditions.

Conservatives embraced the revisions as a way to lower people's health care expenses, but moderates saw them as diminishing coverage because insurers could make policies for their most ill - and expensive - customers too costly for them to afford. Influential conservative Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, was also now backing it, as was Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala.

Reflecting the pressure on Republicans to pass a health overhaul, Sen.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), a deficit hawk and Freedom Caucus member who opposed the AHCA, said he would review the amendment and was encouraged by progress toward "more power given to states to determine the insurance company-state-citizen relationship". "And when I don't get it replaced, if it's not replaced, then it reflects on my campaign".

Yet majorities say those protections should be maintained nationwide, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, the first to examine the contours of the emerging compromise plan. The group had lobbied for a full repeal of the healthcare law, and its support for the amendment, which falls short of that goal, was seen as a major boost to the prospects of a Republican replacement plan.

The outlines of a potential agreement remained fuzzy, but congressional aides familiar with the talks said Trump would emerge with border security funding that's unrelated to the wall and a $15 billion down payment for the military on top of $578 billion in already-negotiated Pentagon funding.

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