The chairman of a group of House conservatives known for causing GOP leadership problems is already resisting Obamacare replacement proposals surfaced in leaked Republican draft legislation.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who heads the House Freedom Caucus, told CNN Monday he would vote against a bill that looked like the leaked draft, and that other conservatives had similar concerns about the proposals’ tax credits for individual insurance as well as its tax on the most generous employer-based plans.
“What is conservative about a new entitlement program and a new tax increase? And should that be the first thing that the President signs of significance that we sent to the new President?” Meadows said “A new Republican president signs a new entitlement and a new tax increase as his first major piece of legislation? I don’t know how you support that — do you?”
He stopped short of telling CNN exactly how many House Freedom Caucus votes Republicans could be in danger of losing if it moves forward with that version of the legislation. Typically, the caucus will debate an issue and vote on it before taking an official position, seeking 80 percent of the caucus’ support. Earlier this month the House Freedom Caucus voted to endorse using the 2015 Obamacare repeal bill, which was vetoed by President Obama, as a model this time around, but left itself some wiggle room as to what else it would support.
The draft legislation, which appears to be a few weeks old, would dismantle major of the aspects of the Affordable Care Act while offering some replacement measures. Republicans hope to use a process called reconciliation that avoids a filibuster in the Senate but can only be used on budget-related items. The proposals in the leaked package include refundable tax credits that would increase by age. Unlike the ACA’s subsidies, they would be available to everyone, not just according to one’s income.
“So the headline is that the GOP is reducing subsidies to needy individuals when in fact, the growth of the taxpayer-subsidized reimbursements will actually increase. The total dollars that we spend on subsidies will be far greater,” Meadows told CNN. “So you can be a millionaire and not have employer-based health care and you’re going to get a check from the federal government — I’ve got a problem with that.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a former chair of the Freedom Caucus, has also raised concerns about the tax credits but wouldn’t say whether he would vote against the draft legislation in an interview with CNN.
The Freedom Caucus has warmed up to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’s Obamacare replacement bill, which is skimpier than what House leadership has floated. Freedom Caucus member Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) introduced a companion version for the House with the group’s support.
Paul’s bill so far has no Senate co-sponsors, a reflection of the obstacles Republicans face getting its moderates and conservatives on the same page in the repeal debate.