The renewed Republican effort to gain consensus on legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare has stalled, with leaders declining the latest request by the Freedom Caucus to change the legislation.
On Wednesday, Representative Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the chief deputy whip, contended that allowing states to waive requirements for covering individuals with pre-existing conditions is a “bridge too far for our members” and that there would not be enough votes for legislation including such a provision to pass.
McHenry said that legislators need a “cooling off period” to figure out how to move forward.
“We need people to stop, take a deep breath, and think through the way to yes.”
McHenry’s remarks followed a late-night meeting on Tuesday of different House Republican factions which did not progress the initiative.
The pause in proceedings comes as lawmakers in the House prepare to leave for a two-week recess without casting votes on a healthcare bill—their first legislative priority under the new administration.
Republicans appeared to be making progress on Obamacare repeal earlier in the week, but the attempt to build consensus resulted in resumed intra-party conflict and conservatives contending that they are incurring unfair blame for the lack of progress.
The conservative group Heritage Action responded to the criticism on Wednesday by holding a press call in which it accused moderates of obstructing a deal and insisted that legislators regroup during the recess.
According to The Hill, this week’s negotiations surrounded a proposal from Vice President Pence that would allow states to apply for waivers from certain ObamaCare regulations including “essential health benefits, which require insurance plans to cover a range of health services; community rating, which prevents insurers from charging people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums; and guaranteed issue, which prevents people with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage.”
McHenry defended those Obamacare policies, contained in Title I of the law, as providing important protections that most Republicans want to maintain in new legislation.
“If you look at the key provisions of Title I, it affects a cross section of our conference based off of their experience and the stories they know from their constituents and their understanding of policy,” McHenry said.
Conservatives contend that funds for high-risk pools would subsidize coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions if the regulations were waived.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) responded to McHenry’s claim that his caucus’ requests were “a bridge too far” saying, “Full repeal of ObamaCare may be a bridge too far. Anything less than that is not a bridge too far.”
H/T: The Hill
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