IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

House GOP Moves Forward on a New Compromise Addition to Health Care

Pressure is mounting on House Republicans to move forward with a new idea that would amend their health care bill.
Image: United States Capitol Building at dawn
The U. S. Capitol Building at dawn on April 7.Michael Reynolds / EPA file

With President Donald Trump pushing for a legislative victory before his 100th day in office next Friday, pressure is mounting on House Republicans to move forward with a new idea that would amend their health care bill.

The measure, written by Rep. Tom MacArthur, a moderate Republican from New Jersey, was hashed out with Rep. Mark Meadows R-N.C., the chair of the conservative Freedom Caucus, in an attempt to bring together enough members to pass health care reform in the House.

Their plan, which was just bullet points on Thursday, could be released as legislative text as early as Friday night or Saturday according to sources familiar with the discussions.

Republicans are holding a conference call Saturday afternoon to touch base ahead of their return to Washington on Tuesday, and the new legislative language could be distributed to them ahead of the call.

A senior GOP leadership source says its "definitely possible" that the House could vote next week on the bill, but acknowledged that no decision has been made.

The White House has been pushing for a deal on health care since the GOP bill was pulled from the House floor just prior to a final vote in March for lack of support.

The compromise under consideration addresses some of the conservatives' concerns over regulations imposed on insurance companies that they say drive up the cost of premiums.

Congress also has to focus on funding the government, which runs out on April 28 — Trump's 99th day in office.

But it's still too early to tell if this will convince enough Republicans to support the bill, despite pressure from the White House to pass something as early as next week. The president took an optimistic tone on the chances Thursday, saying, "we'll see what happens, but this is a great bill, this is a great plan and this would be great health care and it's evolving."

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Penn., a moderate who opposed the House GOP's Obamacare replacement bill in March, told NBC News that the proposed changes by MacArthur and Meadows aren't sufficient to make him change his mind.

"It doesn't do anything to change the problems with the underlying bill," Dent said, adding that he's still concerned about the cuts to Medicaid and that the tax credits aren't generous enough to help the low-income and seniors.

It allows states to apply for a waiver from providing essential health benefits in their insurance plans, which are services the federal government mandated that insurers must cover like maternity care, hospitalization and emergency care. States would be able to set up high risk pools for the most costly people to insure with the goal of bringing down the cost of insurance for healthier individuals.

But the plan doesn't address other conservatives' concerns, including the mandate on pre-existing conditions and other insurance regulations.

It does allow for states to apply for a waiver on the community rating, a mandate that limits the amount health insurance can charge certain people more. But increased charges can't be because age, health and gender, essentially keeping intact the component known as the community health rating.

The plan also doesn't address the concerns of moderates who are worried about cuts to Medicaid and tax benefits that are too small to help people purchase individual coverage.