28 April 2017

Freedom Caucus endorses Obamacare repeal compromise & House delays Obamacare vote, denying Trump 100-day win 26&27APR17

“It should be no surprise that TrumpCare has gotten so terrible that Republicans have resorted to exempting themselves and their families from the pain it inflicts," said Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. "Speaker Ryan and Congressional Republicans promised that Americans with pre-existing conditions would be protected, but it turns out they were only talking about themselves.”

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE LATEST HEALTHCARE BILL IN THE U.S. HOUSE. It is nothing short of class warfare, denying healthcare for millions while protecting members of congress from the effects of their legislation as noted in the +POLITICO  articles below,  "As top conservative groups and lawmakers declared their support for the revised measure, however, a new problem arose that could slow progress. A provision in the proposal appeared to exempt members of Congress and their aides from weakened regulations that states would be allowed to adopt." Maybe this is why the house repiglican leadership will not hold a vote on this healthcare denying bill until next week. We all have the opportunity to stop this dead in it's tracks. Contact your representative here and let them know all Americans have a right to affordable healthcare regardless of age, gender and pre-exising conditions and that any new healthcare bill must include all members of congress and their entire staffs. 

Freedom Caucus endorses Obamacare repeal compromise

'While the revised version still does not fully repeal Obamacare, we are prepared to support it to keep our promise to the American people to lower healthcare costs,' the group says in a statement.
President Donald Trump inched closer to his elusive goal of transforming the health care system Wednesday as hard-line House conservatives — once the chief opponents of the GOP plan — embraced a new proposal to replace Obamacare.
Senior House Republican sources said they still didn’t have the votes for passage Wednesday evening. But GOP leaders felt bullish enough about their progress that they began considering a vote as early as this week. Nothing is scheduled. However, Republicans on Wednesday — through an obscure House rule for another piece of legislation — gave themselves same-day authority to fast-track any bill at the last minute, through Saturday.
“It’s only a matter of time now,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the House’s chief deputy whip, declared after the House’s arch-conservative Freedom Caucus endorsed the measure.
Yet even as the backing of the conservative group provided an undeniable burst of momentum to Trump and the GOP leadership, a band of moderate House Republicans remained deeply skeptical. Insiders say the changes to the bill have hardened the positions of some moderate and traditional Republican opponents of the bill. And even if the House passes the bill, the Senate remains an enormous hurdle.
But moderates present the most immediate threat to the White House’s sudden progress. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), who backed an earlier version of the proposal, said he’s now undecided. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), who opposed the initial version, said she needs “basic information” about the conservative-backed changes before she takes a position.
And Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), co-chair of the moderate, 50-member Tuesday Group, said he hasn’t detected any reversals among the opponents of the health care bill — in fact, he said, their ranks may grow.
“The question now is how many people does it take from yes to no,” he said.
Others Tuesday Group members, including Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.), wouldn’t comment on the measure, an amendment to the Affordable Care Act.
That resistance could threaten the White House’s desire for a quick vote on the new plan. It also tempered the exuberance of some backers of the House health care plan, known as the American Health Care Act, after the Freedom Caucus endorsement.
The group of three dozen conservatives said in an early Wednesday statement that an agreement negotiated by caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and centrist Tuesday Group co-Chairman Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) assuaged their previous concerns about the bill. The White House has been pressing Republicans to broker a compromise.
Asked whether his proposal would get the bill across the finish line, MacArthur said the primary goal had to be ensuring the bill’s previous supporters remained in the fold.
“I think we now need to make sure we hold the people that were ‘yes’ before,” he said. “And if we do, I’m cautiously optimistic we can get this done.”
Though he is a Tuesday Group co-chairman, MacArthur said he didn’t consider that role to be the driver behind his effort. “I don’t think about one caucus or another,” he said.
The new health care language allows states to opt out of central Obamacare protections for consumers — as long as the states offer an alternative proposal that lowers premiums, increases the ranks of insured people or stokes greater competition among health insurance companies. States would also be required to set up “risk pools” that help provide coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
The plan would prohibit insurers from charging women higher premiums than men and retains Obamacare’s guarantee of “access” to coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. But it would also allow states to waive Obamacare’s prohibition on charging sick people higher premiums if they have a gap in coverage. States could also pull back from Obamacare’s set of minimum insurance benefits.
Centrists are wary of supporting any measure that could be construed as stepping away from a pledge to protect constituents with pre-existing conditions. Dent said he was surprised that an amendment negotiated by MacArthur — a Tuesday Group leader — would include the kind of policy changes that ultimately won the support of the Freedom Caucus. He described it as “face-saving and blame-shifting” by conservatives who were blamed for the failure of earlier versions of the AHCA.
As top conservative groups and lawmakers declared their support for the revised measure, however, a new problem arose that could slow progress. A provision in the proposal appeared to exempt members of Congress and their aides from weakened regulations that states would be allowed to adopt.
Democrats seized on the language, arguing that Republicans were trying to shield themselves from their own legislation. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee even planned a rapid-fire digital ad campaign highlighting the provision as Republicans were grappling with the details.
“It should be no surprise that TrumpCare has gotten so terrible that Republicans have resorted to exempting themselves and their families from the pain it inflicts,” said Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. “Speaker Ryan and congressional Republicans promised that Americans with pre-existing conditions would be protected, but it turns out they were only talking about themselves.”
Multiple GOP lawmakers and staff members acknowledged that the language could create an appearance problem. But they all expressed confidence that the matter would be resolved, either through another bill or by changing the text.
Still, several Freedom Caucus members who suggested they might support the bill after the White House gave conservatives additional concessions said they want to see the issue fixed first.
“There is a thing that’s missing, which is the congressional component, which makes sure that Congress isn’t exempt,” said Freedom Caucus member Scott Perry (R-Pa.), when asked whether he plans to back the bill.
The proposal unveiled late Tuesday by Meadows and MacArthur — cheered on by the Trump administration and, especially, Vice President Mike Pence — has been billed as the compromise that could corral skittish Republicans reluctant to support earlier versions of the proposal. And on Wednesday, before the Freedom Caucus took an official position, several conservatives who had withheld their support from earlier proposals indicated they were ready to sign on.
“If the amendment goes in, I’m for it,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, vice chair of the Freedom Caucus, who noted that the bill is not a “full repeal of Obamacare.”
Conservative advocacy groups that once knocked the GOP health care plan as an insufficient repeal of Obamacare began lining up behind the new plan.
“While we’re still short of full repeal, this latest agreement would give states the chance to opt out of some of Obamacare’s costliest regulations, opening the way to greater choice and lower insurance premiums,” Club for Growth President David McIntire said in a statement. FreedomWorks, another conservative group, also endorsed the revised proposal.
The revised plan was unveiled as the House was also juggling an imminent government shutdown deadline and the outline of a tax plan that Trump released Wednesday afternoon.
As moderates and conservatives huddled to figure out who would vote for the deal, GOP leaders set to work figuring out how to fix the member exemption matter.
Several GOP sources indicated that the inclusion of exempting language was a technical requirement because of the Senate’s rules. Any change to Congress’ health care would fall outside the jurisdiction of the Senate’s health committee. That technicality would require a different set of procedures in the Senate and prevent the legislation from passing with a bare 51-vote majority, instead subjecting it to a 60-vote requirement that would be insurmountable without Democratic support.
Katie Jennings contributed to this report.

House delays Obamacare vote, denying Trump 100-day win

GOP leaders are still struggling to round up enough moderates to get their repeal-and-replace bill through the chamber.
House Republican leaders on Thursday delayed a vote on their Obamacare repeal bill until next week at the earliest, denying President Donald Trump a major legislative victory during his first 100 days in office.
Speaker Paul Ryan and his top lieutenants decided during a late-night huddle in the Capitol that they still do not have the votes to pass the stalled health-care legislation. At least 15 House Republicans remain solidly opposed to the bill, with 20 more leaning no or still undecided, according to GOP lawmakers and aides.
House Republicans can lose only 22 votes.
"We are not voting on health care tomorrow," Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters upon emerging from the meeting. "We're still educating members."
White House officials, after striking a deal with conservatives, had publicly raised expectations that the vote would occur this week. And they privately pushed Ryan (R-Wis.) to hand Trump something he could tout as a major legislative victory before Saturday, his 100th day in office.
But GOP leaders are still struggling to secure the votes, though some are hopeful they can vote next week. More than 15 lawmakers publicly declared their opposition in recent days, though most of those members also rejected the original draft that Ryan yanked from the floor last month. More foreboding for House leaders, Republicans who backed earlier versions of the proposal, including Reps. Mike Coffman of Colorado and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, said they were now undecided. Some even came out against the bill.
“Protections for those with pre-existing conditions without contingency and affordable access to coverage for every American remain my priorities for advancing health care reform, and this bill does not satisfy those benchmarks for me," said Rep. Ryan Costello, a centrist Pennsylvania Republican who voted for an earlier version of the bill in committee. "I remain a no vote on this bill in its current form.”
Multiple senior House Republican sources said Ryan and his top lieutenants have made progress and are increasingly confident that they'll eventually garner enough support to force the bill through the chamber. They've locked down the most recalcitrant conservatives in the 238-member House GOP conference. And they say they're making headway with some moderate Republicans wary of a constituent backlash if they support the health care overhaul.
Case in point: Three senior House Republican sources sounded confident Thursday that they’ve now secured a “yes” vote from House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, who came out against the bill several weeks ago. The influential New Jersey Republican’s office did not return multiple requests for comment.
But leadership still has a ways to go until they hit 216, the number of votes Ryan needs to pass the bill. Since no Democrats are expected to support the measure — which would gut some of Obamacare's central consumer protections, repeal its taxes and phase out its massive expansion of Medicaid — Ryan can afford to lose only 22 members.
Moderates appeared to be the biggest headache for GOP leaders on Thursday.
Coffman told POLITICO that if the vote on the measure were called today, "I'd vote no." Coffman said he has serious concerns about whether the latest draft does enough to protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, concerns echoed by just about every centrist opponent of the bill.
Reps. Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania, Jamie Herrera Beutler of Washington state and John Katko of New Yorkalso came out against the bill in statements Thursday, with Meehan specifically citing concerns about those with pre-existing condition as the reason for his opposition.
Meanwhile, a slew of House GOP moderates steadfastly refused to reveal their position on the measure. Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, told a reporter to "contact my office" when asked about her position. Rep. Darrell Issa of California, who represents a district Hillary Clinton won handily in November, paused outside the House chamber for a reporter's question only to ignore it and walk away when asked about the health care bill.
Moderates aren’t the only problem for leaders. A small number of staunch conservatives are also holding their ground against the latest plan despite Wednesday's endorsement by the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Caucus member Andy Biggs of Arizona said he was a “no.” Rep. Rod Blum of Iowa said he was waiting to decide how to vote until he had read a study about how the legislation would affect premiums for group health insurance.
Meanwhile, other conservatives not in the Freedom Caucus, including Rep. Walter Jones, also said they’d vote against the bill Thursday. The North Carolina Republican said he couldn’t back something that had not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office.
“I’m still going to vote no,” Jones said. “I don’t see how anybody, with our nation going financially broke, can vote for a bill of such consequences without knowing the score.”
The Congressional Budget Office is not expected to release the latest score of the new draft for a few weeks, congressional sources said Thursday. The CBO score for an earlier version of the text estimated that 24 million more people could go uninsured over the next 10 years.
House leaders spent almost all Wednesday and Thursday buttonholing members, attempting to round up every vote possible. House vote counters such as deputy whip Patrick McHenry of North Carolina were seen roaming the chamber, corralling members who opposed the health care measure — including even Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, one of the most ardent opponents of earlier versions of the health care plan. Amash, a Freedom Caucus member, has told reporters he's still reviewing the bill despite the Freedom Caucus' endorsement.
Some mainstream and moderate Republicans stewed that the White House had rewarded what they see as bad behavior by the Freedom Caucus. After trying to work in good faith with leadership, the skeptics said they're now being pressured to vote for a more conservative bill.
At the heart of the revised health care measure are changes negotiated by Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows or North Carolina and New Jersey Rep. Tom MacArthur, a second-term lawmaker and co-chair of the Tuesday Group. Under the proposal, states would be permitted to waive some of Obamacare's minimum coverage requirements and consumer protections, so long as they certified that they could offer an alternative that reduces premiums, enhances competition or increases the number of people with coverage.
Though the measure would technically preserve Obamacare's guarantee of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, it also allows insurers in those states to jack up premiums for sick people if they have a gap in coverage. To offset that risk, the bill includes a $130 billion fund meant to help keep premiums down for people with pre-existing conditions. But advocates like the American Medical Association, AARP and the American Hospital Association worry that it isn't enough to do much good.
MacArthur said Thursday his goal in negotiating with the Freedom Caucus was to "make sure everybody has health insurance" and make sure health care "costs are under control."
"I'm simply looking at which Republicans can we get to support a compromise that is helpful for moving along health care reform, which is desperately needed," he said.
Trump's chaotic first 100 days