There it is, House conservatives (particularly the House Freedom Caucus) can no longer be blamed if Obamacare doesn’t get repealed and replaced.
Weeks after the disastrous collapse of the first GOP Obamacare Repeal deal, House Republicans have finally cobbled together enough support from all wings of the party to ensure that their latest healthcare bill passes the lower chamber of Congress.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) is the chairman of the Freedom Caucus and he explained that while the Caucus doesn’t love the deal, they have decided to support it because it does, finally, lower costs. “While the revised version still does not fully repeal Obamacare, we are prepared to support it to keep our promise to the American people to lower healthcare costs,” Meadows explained.
What finally changed their minds?
— Alyssa Farah (@Alyssafarah) April 26, 2017
The inclusion of the MacArthur Amendment (named after Rep. Tom MacArthur from NJ) swayed the caucus to offer their support of the bill.
The amendment, described in more detail last week at NRO, offers states limited waivers to opt out of parts of the AHCA, including essential health benefits and some community-rating rules. This compromise is the outgrowth of the efforts of representatives Tom MacArthur, co-chairman of the moderate House Tuesday Group, and Mark Meadows, chairman of the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus (HFC) to reconcile the two halves of the party on health-care reform. So far, a number of right-wing groups, including the Club for Growth and Heritage Action, have hailed the amendment as a step in the right direction toward lowering premiums and allowing for greater choice in the health-care market. More importantly, the amendment has gained enough support from members of the HFC to garner the caucus’s official support, meaning that at least 80 percent of its members will vote for the AHCA if this amendment is attached.
As Meadows made clear, the Washington Examiner explains that the House Freedom Caucus is still not enamored with this deal but feel that leadership has finally made a good-faith effort to lower costs, and deserve their support to continue working towards repeal.
Some caucus members have said that gutting the regulations is key to lowering premiums. However, the deal is a far cry from the full repeal that members sought when the AHCA was introduced in early March.
The formal support from the Freedom Caucus means that at least 80 percent of its 35-40 members support the amendment. And while it is not clear if there are enough centrists to block the legislation, that opposition may be moot. Republicans need to get to 216 votes to pass the American Health Care Act and can only afford 21 defections.
Passing the House is actually the easy part. The fight to get an Obamacare repeal deal through the Senate will be much tougher because the GOP majority is so slim. All it would take to stop repeal and replace from passing is 2-3 GOP defections, and that seems like a very real possibility (particularly from Senators like Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and perhaps Shelly Capito (R-WV)).