As Republicans near a vote in the House of Representatives on their healthcare bill, some hardline conservatives are driving a hard bargain that may sink the legislation.
The House Freedom Caucus, a group of very conservative House lawmakers, reportedly is demanding that the American Health Care Act strip key, popular provisions of Obamacare — officially known as the Affordable Care Act.
On Wednesday night, reports said that President Donald Trump and the White House had conceded to the Freedom Caucus that they would change the bill to strip out the ACA’s essential health benefits. This was a provision that forced insurers to cover a baseline of care.
These changes were not enough for some members of the Freedom Caucus, according to reports. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a prominent member of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters that essential health benefit repeal was not enough and “it’s always been beyond that.”
The freedom Caucus has reportedly asked for a repeal of some “Title 1 provisions” in the ACA. These provisions do things like prevent insurers from denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition, allow children to stay on their parents insurance until they turn 26 years old, and annual limits on healthcare costs.
The only problem is that many of these Title 1 provisions are the most popular parts of the law.
On Wednesday, a Harvard Harris Poll found that 90% of people surveyed supported the pre-existing conditions provision. 80% supported the provision allowing children to stay on their parent’s health insurance until age 26.
In terms of the essential health benefits, a poll in December 2016 by the nonpartisan health policy think tank The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 83% of those surveyed supported the provision to eliminate out-of-pocket costs for preventative services.
Trump promised on the campaign trail to keep these provisions intact and now appears to be balking at the request from hardline conservatives. According to Bloomberg, the White House refused the Freedom Caucus’ demands for Title 1 provision repeals at the meeting on Wednesday.
The fear is also that more moderate Republicans may drop their support of the AHCA if these elements are repealed. On the other hand, the GOP risks the Freedom Caucus uniformly voting against the bill, which would be enough to block its passage.
Trump was meeting with Freedom Caucus leaders at the White House to smooth over these details and get the needed support for the bill as of the 12:25 p.m. ET.