Freedom Caucus promises amendment to fix Obamacare repeal bill
The conservative House Freedom Caucus is drafting a major amendment to the GOP plan to repeal Obamacare after House Speaker Paul Ryan conceded the bill needed to be fixed.
Caucus chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told reporters after a meeting of the caucus Wednesday night that they were working on an amendment that could thread the needle and get support from both conservatives and moderates for the American Health Care Act.
Meadows didn't elaborate on what would be in the amendment, besides saying that he plans to release it on Friday.
"At this point it is all about lowering healthcare premiums and trying to keep it narrowly focused," he said referring to the amendment's contents.
Meadows added he has had conversations with House moderate GOP members, which have been concerned about the bill after the Congressional Budget Office estimated 24 million people would be without insurance over the next decade.
"I think moderates' main concern has been the Medicaid side of things," Meadows said. "I think there is a path where we can work in a meaningful way to address Medicaid concerns and yet still address conservative concerns."
Conservatives have called for ending the Medicaid expansion early, as the current bill sunsets it in 2020 and replaces Medicaid funding to a per-capita cap system. Conservatives want the expansion to end in 2018 but moderate Senators are likely to balk at that change.
Meadows said that neither the White House nor GOP leadership has seen the amendment, which the caucus is still ironing out.
However, Meadows believes that the administration genuinely wants to come to the table on the bill.
Meadows said that if GOP leadership approves the amendment then it could "allow Freedom Caucus members to be a yes on the bill."
The House leadership is performing a whip count on Wednesday night to determine support for the AHCA, which guts Obamacare and partially replaces it.
Meadows was confident that now the GOP doesn't have enough support to get the bill through the House as it currently stands.
"There are more than a definite 21 hard nos," he said, referring to the number of members the GOP can afford to lose in the House.
Ryan said during a news conference Wednesday night that he pledged to "improve" and "refine" the bill, which has gotten opposition from conservatives and moderates in the party.
The next step in the American Health Care Act is to go before the House Budget Committee on Thursday. Meadows said the caucus is encouraging its members on the committee to not deliver a "no" vote on the bill.
"We want to be able to amend this bill," he said. "If we killed it in Budget we would not have that opportunity."