Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, on Wednesday night said that he was making progress in negotiations with the White House and Republican House leadership on changes to the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare that would win over support from members of the caucus.
“I’m really optimistic that we can get there. There’s still a lot of details to work out,” Meadows told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
He said that it was “not accurate” to say that a deal has been reached yet, but Meadows said that he reached a preliminary agreement with President Donald Trump.
“The President and I came to an agreement in principle,” he told Hannity. “I think what we’re trying to do now is make sure that our agreement is actually something that can be executed in a way that passes the Senate.”
Meadows said that he had been in discussions with the White House and with House leadership on Wednesday about changes to the bill.
“I’m seeing real progress,” he said. “We’re not there yet, but I can tell you that we’re working on it.”
On CNN Thursday morning, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a member of the Freedom Caucus, said it was still unclear whether they would reach an agreement with the White House and Republican leaders.
“I think there’s progress being made, but we’ll see if we can actually get an agreement that’s going to do what we’ve always had as the goal,” he said.
With the Thursday vote on the legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act fast approaching, members of the House Freedom Caucus said earlier on Wednesday that they still had enough votes to block the bill’s passage. This prompted Republican leaders to promise conservative House members that the Senate would accommodate one of their demands: removing Obamacare’s Essential Health Benefits (EHB) rule. The EHB rule requires insurers to offer plans that cover a list of basic services like emergency room care and maternity care.
But conservatives have pushed for a provision eliminating the EHB rule to be included in the House bill, despite concerns that a bill with that provision would be able to pass the Senate’s reconciliation rules.
The White House tentatively agreed to include that change in the House bill late Wednesday, according to the Huffington Post, The Hill, and Politico.
Members of the Freedom Caucus are also pushing for a provision gutting the Affordable Care Act’s Title I provision, which protects people with pre-existing conditions. As of Wednesday night, the White House had not yet agreed to that change, according to the Huffington Post. Without a deal on the Title I provision, it’s not clear that all members of the Freedom Caucus will back the House bill.
Moderate members of the House, including Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), were also still opposed to the bill as of Wednesday evening, leaving the future of the House bill uncertain.