Not Dead Yet? White House Floats New Deal To Revive O’Care Repeal

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In an attempt to resuscitate Republicans’ failed Obamacare repeal bill, Trump administration figures met Monday with the hardline House conservatives who helped sink the legislation, as well as centrist GOP members who supported it, to float a proposal to allow states to opt out of certain Obamacare market reforms.

“We have to get more into the detail, Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) told TPM as he headed into the weekly GOP House conference meeting Tuesday morning. “This is really important work that have to get right.”

It’s not clear whether the ongoing talks will yield a revival of the repeal bill, or whether they have the blessing the House leadership, which was so badly burned by the failure of the bill last month. Even if a revised bill were to get through the House, the repeal effort’s prospects in the Senate remained even murkier.

According to House members who have met with the White House officials, the idea would be to permit to states to waive out of the ACA’s Essentials Health Benefits mandates and its community ratings standards if the states present a program that will lower premiums or increase coverage. While the proposal would technically keep the ban on insurers from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions, it would be rendered largely meaningless because gutting community ratings would allow insurers to price sick people out of their insurance.

About a half dozen moderates, all of whom had been “yes” votes on the original House GOP bill, the American Health Care Act, met with Vice President Mike Pence, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, and other administration officials Monday afternoon, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) told reporters afterward.

Collins – a Trump ally who just a week ago was proclaiming the American Health Care Act dead due to the resistance of the conservatives — was optimistic that the bill could be brought back up for a vote soon, perhaps even before the Easter recess, if the hardliners could be brought back on with the new version.

“There are those—I am one – who would like to see it done this week. I certainly got the impression the administration would like it done this week,” Collins said Monday after the meeting. “There are other members who would want it to take more time and then that becomes just the discussion, does more time make it better or worse? My argument is let’s rip the bandaid off right now, let’s do this, so we go home with this win, along with whatever we do with Justice Gorsuch on Friday.” (The Senate is moving to confirm Gorsuch to the Supreme Court by the end of the week.)

Pence, Mulvaney and other administration representatives then met with the House Freedom Caucus Monday evening to discuss the idea. Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) told reporters that the conservatives were open to considering the proposal but would wait until they could see legislative text before making any decisions, according to the Huffington Post.

“There is no deal in principle,” Meadows said, according to the Huffington Post. “There is a solid idea that was offered.”

He said he was expecting legislative text within the next 24 hours, according to Huffington Post.

Until Monday, the Republicans’ Obamacare repeal effort seemed all but dead after the legislation was pulled from the floor last month and congressional leadership signaled it was moving on to tax reform. President Trump has continued to tweet about health care reform and last weekend played golf with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a major critic of the health care bill.

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