Freedom Caucus chair: Deal ‘close’ on ObamaCare repeal

The leader of the House Freedom Caucus says Republicans are “close” to agreement on a plan to repeal ObamaCare, indicating that discussions are still continuing while Congress is in a two-week recess.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) on Tuesday told a local radio station that he expects to hear back from Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) by noon about “two options” on the table. He did not elaborate.

“We’re very close. The biggest thing for all of us is we want to make sure we don’t just have repeal, but we have a replacement that drives down insurance premiums,” he said.

“It’s our encouragement to have a vote as soon as we possibly can, even perhaps before we return back to DC in 13 days.”

While House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has warned that members could be called back from recess early to vote on healthcare if a deal emerges, it appears unlikely.

Congress adjourned last week for two weeks after making no progress on repeal.

Meetings between Vice President Pence and the chairs of the House’s three main Republican factions bore no fruit, with conservatives and moderates still deeply divided on how to move forward.

A last-minute amendment to the repeal bill was added last week that would give insurers $15 billion to cover sick patients with costly healthcare needs, but that change is unlikely to be enough for those who oppose the bill.

The biggest sticking point for Republicans is how to handle ObamaCare’s insurer requirements.

Pence offered to scrap three of those requirements: guaranteed issue, which requires insurers cover everybody; community rating, which requires insurers charge everyone the same price for coverage; and essential health benefits, which mandates which services insurers must cover.

Conservatives argue those provisions drive up the costs of health insurance, but moderates have expressed concern that eliminating those protections would increase costs for sick people.

Source: The Hill