'A Solid Idea': Pence Presents Freedom Caucus With Health Care Compromises

Posted: Apr 04, 2017 9:45 AM

Vice President Mike Pence met with members of the House Freedom Caucus Monday night in an attempt to find a compromise on the stalled American Health Care Act. The conservative group helped derail the initial bill because it did not lower premiums for Americans.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who went golfing with President Trump over the weekend to talk health care, explained on Fox News on Tuesday that many conservatives are under the impression they shouldn’t repeal Obamacare subsidies just to replace it with Republican subsidies. More government is not what they promised the voters.

Pence sought to remedy this part of the AHCA on Monday, telling the caucus in their closed door discussion that the White House’s revisions would allow states to choose to apply for waivers to repeal two Obamacare regulations.

Those two regulations detail ObamaCare's essential health benefits, which mandate which health services insurers must cover, and "community rating," which prevents insurers from charging sick people higher premiums. 

Conservatives had previously called for the bill to repeal those regulations outright, but the deal now being discussed would give states a choice by allowing them to apply for a waiver from the federal government.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) told reporters after the meeting that it was a “solid idea” and the caucus is encouraged by the progress they’re making. Ask Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), however, and he’d suspect House Speaker Paul Ryan and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus are peering over Trump’s shoulder, ready to once again upend the progress.

Some lawmakers have indicated they’re ready to reintroduce a revised bill, but others have continually warned the leadership against setting “artificial” deadlines. 

At a Capitol Hill press conference on Tuesday, Speaker Ryan commended Pence for being "instrumental" in trying to unite the party on health care. He admitted they are still in the "conceptual stage" to get to 216 votes.