House Dems threaten to ax funds if GOP votes on Obamacare repeal

Sen. Orrin Hatch R Utah listens to a reporter's question before a policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday

Sen. Orrin Hatch R Utah listens to a reporter's question before a policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday

The conservative House Freedom Caucus is prepared to support a reworked USA healthcare reform bill even though it would not fully repeal former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, the group said in a statement on Wednesday.

While the amended GOP bill, known as the American Health Care Act, earned the support of some conservative House Freedom Caucus members who were against the initial repeal effort, the changes to the legislation drove away more moderate members.

He noted that GOP Rep. Tom McArthur, a member of the moderate Tuesday Group, had helped negotiate the new bill with the conservative Freedom Caucus chief Rep. Mark Meadows.

In a statement, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, of Maryland, said the proposal would allow insurers to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, "making it substantially the same bill that House Republican leaders could not secure the votes to pass last month".

House Republicans were making headway in efforts to build support for a reworked plan to overhaul the USA healthcare system, but have not decided when to vote, House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Thursday. Since 23 negative votes would scuttle the bill - unless some Democrats could be convinced to vote for it - it doesn't appear that Speaker Ryan is any more inclined to bring this version of Obamacare repeal to the floor than he was the last one.

However, many House moderates who belong to the Tuesday Group continue to resist the efforts to dismantle Obamacare - an effort supported by only 37 percent of Americans according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

If the sentiments of Northeast Ohio Republicans are any indication, they may have trouble rounding up enough votes.

The White House and House leadership were both consulted on the amendment, but there is still little proof that it will finally be the breakthrough that gets the health care bill passed in the House.

MacArthur said the legislation contains $115 billion that states can draw upon to build high-risk pools to cover those who could not afford conventional insurance. "I mean the equivalent would be not buying auto insurance until you've had a wreck", he says. Some outside groups like the American Medical Association weighed in against the legislation, saying it would cost millions their health care coverage.

The approximately 30-member House Freedom Caucus endorsed the new bill Wednesday after opposing the earlier legislation.

Health insurers seeking regulatory approval for 2018 individual insurance plans can file two sets of premium rates as a way to deal with market uncertainty created by Republicans' promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, a California state insurance regulator said on Friday.

While Obama was president, House Republicans voted more than 60 times to repeal the ACA. Others like Rep. Frank LoBiondo also said they would not get behind the bill, citing concerns raised by constituents back home.

The latest iteration included an amendment allowing states to opt out of certain Obamacare consumer protections.

Pelosi decried the Meadows-MacArthur amendment for "gutting" basic medical benefits and protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Several influential health care groups also expressed opposition to the bill on Thursday.

"I'm open to any good idea that gets us across the line", he said. But the practical aspects of ripping out Obamacare's numerous tentacles that have ensnared the entire health care system after six years of being in effect is equally to blame.

Collins said Ryan had told members that the bill wouldn't come to the floor until he had the votes.

Meanwhile, Democrats have maintained unity, leaving Republicans to scramble to find votes within their own caucus.

"Bringing their catastrophic bill back, repackaged but unchanged, will not make it any more likely to pass; nor will it make it any less unsafe to the health of the American people", Hoyer said.

He defended his amendment to reporters on Wednesday.

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