Moderates balk at conservative-backed, revised health bill

Posted April 28, 2017

Those views heighten the challenge for Trump and congressional Republicans as the House returns Tuesday from a two-week recess after a remarkable failure last month in attempting to pass a health-care bill. "These include an obligation that they charge seriously ill and healthy customers the same premiums and that they cover specified services like maternity care". But those moderates in swing districts, unlike the members of the Freedom Caucus, could end up losing their seats if the repeal bill continues to remain unpopular.

House Republicans have been under intense pressure to deliver on years of promises to repeal Obamacare, but GOP leaders weren't making predictions of an imminent vote despite the pressure from the White House.

The Associated Press reported that House Speaker Paul Ryan said the changes were helping the legislation gain support, but he stopped short of saying the plan has the votes the GOP would need to finally push the high-profile measure through the House. The legislation does things they oppose, including cutting the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor and providing less generous federal subsidies to help people buy coverage than under Obama's law. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said he'd already chose to switch to backing the revamped bill on Wednesday before he got two phone calls from Pence, who on the second call handed the phone to Trump.

The amendment was negotiated between Tuesday Group leader Rep. Tom MacArthur, a moderate Republican from New Jersey, and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, with consultation from the White House and House leadership.

But Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., another and longer-tenured leader of that 50-member centrist organization, told reporters that those in his group who were against the bill "remain opposed". The stuff that would make it more palatable to them, like rolling back planned cuts to Medicaid, isn't in the new version and would only spook House conservatives all over again if it were.

"Once they pass a bill, my assumption is, the Senate's going to take a look at it but not necessarily be rubber-stamping what they're proposing", Cornyn said. "It will be harder for the Senate to get 51 Republicans", Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a former House majority leader and longtime whip, said Wednesday.

The latest impediment arose as leading conservative advocacy groups declared support for the plan and House Republican leaders praised it as a step in the right direction. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a vocal foe of the House measure, calling the changes "a significant improvement".

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, joined other Freedom Caucus lawmakers against the original legislation who said they'd support the amended version.

"If Republicans announce their intention to bring their harmful TrumpCare bill to the House Floor tomorrow or Saturday, I will oppose a one-week Continuing Resolution and will advise House Democrats to oppose it as well", Hoyer said in an email.

"They certainly haven't been particularly helpful in the process and a number of them have been busy rolling hand grenades across the Rotunda for about three months", said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.

"I would be shocked that they would want to see a government shutdown", he said, noting the reason the negotiations are still ongoing is because Democrats are "dragging their feet".

The influential American Medical Association, AARP and two major hospital groups all came out against a new amendment unveiled this week that would let states to weaken some of Obamacare's key protections for those with pre-existing conditions and for older enrollees. To obtain the waiver, states would have to provide sick people priced out of commercial insurance with access to a so-called high-risk pool run by the federal government, or establish their own, and satisfy other conditions.