Remember when we were promised that an Obamacare repeal bill would be on President Donald Trump’s desk day one?
There appear to have been some bumps in the road.
While Congressional Republicans could seemingly do nothing but attempt to repeal Obamacare when there was a president in office who wouldn’t sign their repeal, that was apparently nothing more than a symbolic gesture.
After having seven years to analyze Obamacare (which was passed in March of 2010), the best Paul Ryan could come up with was essentially “Obamacare Lite.” Opposition from the House Freedom Caucus took that bill down, and while Trump wants to go to war with them, he should be grateful because Republicans don’t have to own Obamacare 2.0 now.
As for the status of Obamacare’s repeal, what’s next? According to the Washington Examiner, the White House is expected to release the text of a new proposal on Tuesday that would give states the power to opt out of certain Obamacare insurance mandates, in a major attempt to revive Obamacare repeal as early as this week.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters after meeting with Vice President and White House officials that he expects the text of the new compromise on Tuesday. But Meadows seemed doubtful on whether the House would vote this week before adjourning Thursday for the two-week Easter recess.
“Everybody would love to have this bill passed tomorrow if at all possible, but to put a timeline on that would set an expectation that is not realistic based on the drafting,” he said.
Meadows said he would be willing to stay in town, but said he doesn’t speak for the whole caucus of between 35-40 members. “Most of us [in the Freedom Caucus] believe that staying here and getting it done, especially if we think we are close to a deal would be important,” he said.
The proposal could be a way forward for Republicans once they return from their spring break, and give them a chance to make good on an Obamacare repeal bill after their big public failure in March.
As for the details of what’s different this time around:
The compromise would allow states to opt out of forcing insurers to cover 10 essential health benefits in plans, including maternity care and hospitalization. The states could also opt out of forcing insurers to comply with a community rating mandate, which today requires them to offer the same rate to an entire geographic area, and bars them from charging sicker people much more.
Meadows added that the mandates for insurers to cover people with preexisting conditions and letting kids stay on parents’ plan until 26 years of age will remain in place.
However, the community rating mandate was a key driver for ensuring coverage for people with preexisting conditions. Without the mandate, insurers could charge people with preexisting conditions exorbitantly high prices, making coverage hard to achieve. A community rating, which forces insurers to charge the same rate throughout a geographic area, would ensure that insurers couldn’t charge a person with preexisting conditions.
Meadows said that a $115 billion stability fund that was already part of the bill that failed in March, spread out among states, could help offset any such major spikes for people with preexisting conditions. States can decide how to use the funding given to them and can use it for risk sharing.
It’s questionable why the replacement to Obamacare is taking up the majority of discussions on repeal when it was portrayed as the worst thing since communism when Obama was in office.
As Thomas Sowell once put it, when a doctor removes a cancer, does he ask what he’s going to replace it with?
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]