White House effort to revive health bill gets mixed reaction

2017-04-05 10:38
Vice President Mike Pence. (Gerry Broome, AP)

Vice President Mike Pence. (Gerry Broome, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington — A White House offensive to resurrect the moribund House Republican health care bill got an uneven reception on  Tuesday from GOP moderates and conservatives, leaving prospects shaky for the party to salvage one of its leading priorities.

Vice President Mike Pence and other top administration officials were offering to let states request federal exemptions from insurance coverage requirements imposed by President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

About two dozen top GOP lawmakers met for two hours on Tuesday evening with Pence and other White House officials, but participants said differences remained over giving states flexibility to drop those mandates. Meetings will continue on Wednesday.

"It was a very good exchange of ideas, with concerns that represent the very broad spectrum of our conference," said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who leads the conservative House Freedom Caucus. The group's roughly three dozen members have largely opposed the GOP legislation for not repealing enough of Obama's law.

At the White House, Pence said he and President Donald Trump "remain confident that working with the Congress we will repeal and replace Obamacare".

'The conceptual stage'

But there was no evidence that the proposal won over any GOP opponents who'd forced Trump and party leaders to beat an unceremonious retreat on their bill on March 24, when they cancelled a House vote that was doomed to failure.

"We want to make sure that when we go, we have the votes to pass this bill," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters.

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 in the day, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., his party's chief vote counter, said talks were not at "a place where there is consensus" on health care and indicated a vote this week was unlikely.

Under the White House proposal, states could apply for a federal waiver from a provision in Obama's statute obliging insurers to cover "essential health benefits", including mental health, maternity and substance abuse services.

The current version of the GOP legislation would erase that coverage requirement but let states reimpose it themselves, language that is opposed by many moderates.

In addition, the White House would let states seek an exemption to the law's provision banning insurers from charging higher premiums for seriously ill people.

Conservatives have argued that such restrictions inflate consumers' costs.

Mixed reactions 

Reaction from rank-and-file GOP lawmakers was mixed. Moderate Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., and conservative Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., each said they remained "no" votes, with Brooks saying states should be allowed to opt out of Obama's insurance requirements without seeking federal permission.

Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, was among several moderates warning that a quick vote would be counter-productive.

"If leadership hasn't learned the lessons of the failures of two weeks ago, then they'll bring something forward where nobody knows about it and try and get it passed," Renacci said.

Even so, some members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus were showing signs of accepting less than many originally wanted.

Meadows said talks were boiling down to curbing several of Obama's coverage requirements — a far cry from the full repeal of the statute that many initially preferred.

"It perhaps is as much of a repeal as we can get done," Meadows told reporters. He added, "That's the calculation we have to make."

Similarly, some moderates whose opposition was also instrumental in the legislation's failure expressed cautious optimism that the White House offer would produce results.

"We have to do things that will win people from both sides of the spectrum. Of course it's hard," said Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., a leader of the Tuesday Group of House GOP moderates.

A poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation flashed a warning for the White House, showing that 3 in 4 Americans want the Trump administration to make Obama's law work.

About 2 in 3 were glad the House GOP bill didn't pass last month. But people split evenly between wanting to keep or repeal Obama's statute.

The underlying House Republican bill would repeal much of Obama's 2010 law.

It would erase its tax fines for consumers who don't buy policies, federal aid to help many afford coverage and Medicaid expansion for additional poor people.

Instead, substitute GOP tax subsidies would be less generous than Obama's for many lower earners and people in their 50s and 60s, the overall Medicaid programme would be cut, tax boosts on higher earners would be ended and consumers who let coverage lapse would face 30% premium hikes.


Read more on:    obamacare  |  donald trump  |  us  |  healthcare

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.