The effort by the White House to revive the Republican overhaul of healthcare appears to have hit multiple roadblocks in the past two days, as a deal that would please all sides of the House GOP conference has again proved hard to nail down.
After a two-hour session of negotiations Tuesday night between representatives from the White House and members of various GOP House caucuses, major sticking points were left unresolved. And the future of the American Health Care Act — the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare — is as murky as ever.
Accusations of a double-faced deal, a significant policy disagreement, and a tight schedule all threaten to derail the future of the AHCA.
The White House effort to revive the healthcare bill is being led by Vice President Mike Pence, chief of staff Reince Priebus, and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.
The group has been attempting to bring the conservative House Freedom Caucus on board to secure enough GOP votes to pass the bill through the House. At the same time, the White House team is attempting to keep the bill palatable for the more moderate members of the GOP conference who are members of the Tuesday Group.
According to Politico’s Rachel Bade and Josh Dawsey, during meetings on Tuesday, Pence and the rest of the White House team offered the two sides different deals. Or, the two sides at least feel that way.
The disagreements come over two Obamacare regulations regarding so-called essential health benefits and community ratings. Freedom Caucus members want these regulations repealed to ensure what they consider a more free market for insurance, while moderates believe a repeal would undermine protections for those with preexisting conditions and leave sick Americans without affordable coverage.
In a meeting with moderate members, Pence and the White House group seemed to hint the repeal of the provisions would be limited and subject to intense approval by the federal government.
But in a later meeting with Freedom Caucus members, however, lawmakers said Pence agreed to paint the repeal of these regulations as simpler and that the federal government would rubber stamp any state who wished to do so.
According to Politico, members of both sides said there were a variety of options that the White House team promised to one side but not the other.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), chair of the House Freedom Caucus
Overall, the two sides do not appear any closer to taking any meaningful steps toward a deal.
House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday that the negotiations were still in “conceptual stages.”
“There are no agreements tonight,” Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Mark Meadows told reporters after the meetings Tuesday night.
Both lawmakers and White House representatives said that the two-hour meeting didn’t bring the sides together.
“There were no agreements tonight in principle, and certainly no agreements in terms of a foundation,” Mulvaney, a former Freedom Caucus member, told reporters after the meeting.
It appears, as was the case during the first negotiations over the AHCA, that the Freedom Caucus is forcing the bill further to the right and pushing for the repeal of the regulations. This makes support from moderate Republicans less and less likely.
According to David Nather at Axios, some GOP leaders believe that the changes being proposed to appease the Freedom Caucus are on net losing the bill votes rather than winning them over.
With the possibility of a vote this week looking increasingly dubious amid a looming two-week break for Congress, it appears, again, that “Trumpcare” isn’t moving forward anytime soon.
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