House Republican leaders hoped that the House Freedom Caucus’s endorsement of the latest Obamacare repeal bill would light a fire under enough moderates to get their whip count to the 216 votes needed to pass the measure. Instead, the holdouts are digging in, saying that the latest changes only moved the bill to the right and could put more Americans at risk of losing their health insurance.
“My concern has always been and what a lot of us talked about: people with pre-existing conditions, the elderly,” said Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.). “How this makes the original bill better? Where is the part that is better for the folks I’m concerned about it? I’m not seeing it at this stage.”
Protections for people with pre-existing conditions have only been in effect for seven years, but proven to be one of the most popular and well-known features of the Affordable Care Act. Moderate Republicans are worried about stripping the safeguards without a reliable replacement. If the resistance from moderates holds, it would be enough to block Obamacare repeal in the House — or send the effort back to square one.
GOP leaders have been buttonholing moderates for two days, arguing that the latest changes — drafted by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) with consultation from the House Freedom Caucus — would ensure people with pre-existing conditions wouldn't be priced out of a reconfigured market, pointing to high-risk pool requirements in state that choose to opt out of Obamacare provisions. (Reality check. The bill would allow states to raise the rates so hight it would be unaffordable for seniors and people will pre-existing conditions.)
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