A new healthcare bill could be in the waiting.
After Republicans failed to come to an agreement on the American Health Care Act last month, leaders in the House Freedom Caucus are signaling that they have come around due to changes made in the original bill. Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, and Raul Labrador, all prominent members of the House conservative group, are said to be pleased with the new plan.
The House leadership has not been pushing for a new healthcare vote, instead focusing on a spending bill that will keep the federal government open past the Friday deadline. But House Speaker Paul Ryan did say, through a spokesperson, that he was not ruling out a vote in the coming days.
“I think we can turn things around quickly if we were to reach an agreement,” said spokeswoman AshLee Strong. “We will see something as soon as we can, but we’re not there right now.”
The wider Congress has not yet seen the text of the new bill, so we could once again see conservatives and moderates get stuck on the particulars of the legislation.
But it can’t be ignored that a lot of the same House Republicans who opposed the original bill have been saying great things about the new version.
Rep. David Brat said, “A lot of people like it,” when asked about the new bill on Tuesday evening.
According to those on the inside, the changes to the new bill include a clause that would allow states to opt out of the insurance regulations mandated by Obamacare. With a federal waiver, insurance companies could also be allowed to escape federal requirements that force them to cover certain health problems. And while the bill will still require insurance companies to offer coverage to those with preexisting conditions, they will be allowed to charge those patients higher premiums.
It sounds like there is still a lot in the new bill for conservatives to dislike; it does, after all, keep the federal government in charge of insurance regulations in a way it never was before Obamacare. But by giving states more flexibility and insurance companies special provisions, it does seem like a step in the right direction. And with Democrats in the Senate poised to oppose any attempt at repealing and replacing Obama’s signature legislation, it could be the best we’re going to get right now.
Now the question is whether Ryan and the so-called “Tuesday Group” – made up of House moderates – can even pass this new and improved bill. And if they do, can it get through the Senate and onto the president’s desk?