Wednesday, 18 October, 2017

White House pushes uncertain bid to revive health care bill

State officials ask Congress to secure 'Obamacare' subsidies It may be recess, but it's not a vacation for Congress
Melissa Porter | 21 April, 2017, 20:22

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act was a major Trump campaign promise and a longtime goal of House Republicans.

During an interview with Fox News on Wednesday night, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said there's a "potential" that Republicans revive their efforts to repeal Obamacare before Trump's 100th day in office, April 29.

"We have a good chance of getting it soon", he said.

"I am going to keep fighting to get a compromise bill that helps to fix the current situation without hurting the people who are on the Affordable Care Act today", MacArthur said.

But Republican politicians and aides to party leaders, conservatives and moderates alike, were sceptical that the House would vote next week on the health legislation. Because the negotiations between Democrats and Republicans to prevent a government shutdown have deliberately avoided bringing up a border wall, Mulvaney's announcement could undermine one of the key premises that have allowed both parties to move forward in developing a stopgap spending bill.

Why? Try to think all the way back to March 7 - it was more than a month ago, I know - when House Republicans introduced their much-ballyhooed American Health Care Act.

The latest version of the proposal, published Thursday morning in Politico, would maintain popular benefits in President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement, such as guaranteed coverage for emergency services and maternity care. The Staten Island centrist said he remained a no vote, partly because the legislation would increase Medicaid costs for New York City's five boroughs.

An outline of a deal has been crafted by Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who heads the hardline Freedom Caucus, and New Jersey's Tom MacArthur, a Tuesday Group leader. Vice President Mike Pence also played a role in shaping that plan, Republicans say.

States also must prove, according to the document published by Politico, that "the objective of the requested waiver is to reduce premium costs, increase the number of persons with health care coverage, or advance another benefit to the public interest in the state, including the guarantee of coverage for persons with preexisting medical conditions".

Critics argue this could make it more hard for some people to get healthcare, and GOP aides have said the changes may make it hard for centrists in the GOP caucus, who also opposed the first bill, to back this one.

If states requested waivers, people with pre-existing conditions would likely be covered through state-run high-risk pools, which can be expensive for patients and for taxpayers.

Speaking on CNN's "New Day" Friday, Brat, a Virginia Republican and member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, also casually dismissed concerns over the Republican divisions that spoiled the GOP's last attempt at repealing and replacing Obamacare.

The extremely conservative House Freedom Caucus, which successfully scuttled the first failed plan, are working with the Tuesday Group, a slightly less right-wing faction of the House Republican conglomerate. They don't necessarily vote as a bloc, and it is unclear how many colleagues MacArthur would bring with him to such an agreement. Recall that last time the House leadership tried to ram through a bill without full committee consideration or even so much as a Congressional Budget Office scoring, it flopped. He signed a memo directing Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to return recommendations within 50 days.

"Congress usually can not take on two big things at once", The New York Times says.