Powerful Conservative Groups Announce Support For GOP Health Bill Amendment

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Two deep-pocketed conservative groups announced their support Wednesday for an amendment to the American Health Care Act, signaling a change that could sway conservative congressional votes.

Freedom Works and Club for Growth, who both opposed Republicans’ first effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, announced Wednesday that they would support the bill if it included an amendment penned by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) of the conservative Freedom Caucus and Rep. Tom MacArthur of the more moderate Tuesday Group.

The amendment was first leaked in a white paper dated April 13 published by Politico last week. According to that bare outline, the amendment would allow states to apply for waivers for Obamacare’s Essential Health Benefits and community rating rules, with some exceptions, if they do so in the name of lowering costs, increasing coverage or advancing some other “benefit to the public interest.”

States that set up federal risk pools, or participate in a federal high risk pool, would be able to apply to waive the rule preventing insurers from raising rates based on health status under the amendment.

“The MacArthur-Meadows amendment addresses two costly parts of ObamaCare, community rating and the essential health benefits, providing states with much-needed flexibility to stabilize the market, enroll more people in health plans, and bring down the cost of premiums,” FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon said in a statement Wednesday. “We thank Reps. MacArthur and Meadows for their work on this amendment, which represents a path forward on health care in House. If the MacArthur-Meadows amendment were adopted, we would immediately withdraw our key vote against the American Health Care Act.”

“A month ago we said ‘conservatives and moderates… should start by meeting together to see what common ground they have.’ Today, we believe the hard work of Rep. Mark Meadows (NC-11) and Rep. Tom MacArthur (NJ-03), facilitated by Vice President Mike Pence, has yielded a compromise that the Club for Growth can support,” Club for Growth president David McIntosh said in his own statement obtained by TPM.

Last week, a senior GOP aide tempered expectations about the amendment to TPM, noting that there wasn’t even a legislative text prepared yet. And unnamed members of the Tuesday Group stressed to Politico Wednesday that MacArthur was negotiating the amendment on his own, not on behalf of the group.

During a press briefing Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said the amendment “helps us get to consensus.” Conservative Republicans were similarly enthusiastic about the amendment.

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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