Moderates balk at conservative-backed, revised health bill

Moderates balk at conservative-backed, revised health bill

"Once again, House Republicans have made their bill worse for the health of the American people in order to buy off the Freedom Caucus and other conservatives", House said.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus announced its support Wednesday for a newly revised GOP health care bill, a month after the group's opposition forced Republican leaders to pull the legislation in a retreat. Opposition by most of the caucus' roughly three dozen members was a major factor when House leaders canceled a vote on the legislation last month in a mortifying setback for the party.

The proposal, hammered out privately by White House officials, leaders of the arch-conservative House Freedom Caucus and centrist Republican Rep. Tom McArthur of New Jersey, would allow states to opt out of numerous Obamacare regulatory mandates.

Pushing back on any timeline, House Speaker Paul Ryan has repeatedly said leadership will not bring the legislation to the floor until "we have the votes".

The bill may be "going nowhere" in the Senate because the new language would likely run afoul of the Byrd rule, meaning it would require 60 votes in the Senate to pass, said Matt House, a spokesman for Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY.

Centrists opposed to the new bill are largely echoing Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), who said the negotiations between Meadows and MacArthur only exacerbated his earlier problems with the bill.

On Thursday, Rep. Dan Donovan, R-New York, reiterated that he would vote no on the bill because it gives people with pre-existing conditions "less access to health care than they presently have". "We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!"

Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are wrestling over a Democratic demand that the must-pass spending bill keeps money flowing under the health care law that helps low earners pay out-of-pocket medical costs.

The same was true of Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.).

"He was very opposed to any backroom dealings, and he will not vote for something that doesn't incorporate the same changes for all Americans", said Knight. Some outside groups like the American Medical Association weighed in against the legislation, saying it would cost millions their health care coverage.

Ryan was referring to repeated promises by Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare. Only 22 GOP members can vote against the bill for it pass through the Republican-controlled chamber.

"I'm open to any good idea that gets us across the line", he said.

But the changes created to assuage concerns of conservatives could make it hard for moderates to support the bill.

Health care providers, insurance companies, and business groups insist the payments are needed to stabilize the individual health insurance market for 2017 and 2018.

The bottom line is Republicans still don't have the votes to get this done.

"There are discussions about a couple of other tweaks that could occur on the Medicaid side to help at some extent without it being such a new issue that it would lose any votes", Collins said.

Though the latest version of an Affordable Care Act repeal and replacement bill has pleased conservatives, the same changes that won them over may make it tougher for the bill to reach the president's desk. The doctors' group said letting insurers boost premiums on people with pre-existing conditions "will likely lead to patients losing their coverage".

In an interview with reporters Wednesday, MacArthur defended his amendment.

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