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White House officials offer change to health care bill

05 April 2017

The golf game with Paul came just more than a week after House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the American Health Care Act, a Trump-backed bill that would repeal and replace major parts of Obamacare, from consideration on the floor of the chamber.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. and head of the conservative Freedom Caucus, called the administration's new measure for compromise "a solid idea".

Some among Trump's closest allies are urging him to abandon hard-liners in the Republican conference and strike a deal with Democrats on health care and on other issues.

But today, he said he believed the party was "getting closer to an agreement" on health care. After telling reporters that Obamacare would be the law of the land for the "foreseeable future" a few days earlier, Speaker Paul Ryan said Republicans would keep pushing for a repeal.

Failure to dismantle Obama's law could dampen turnout in next year's congressional elections by voters demoralized when Republicans fumbled their promised repeal.

But some conservative leaders say the tensions between Trump and the Freedom Caucus could be fleeting because the president may eventually need them to enact legislation in the coming months.

While the White House has downplayed the significance of the negotiations, a Freedom Party member told the Washington Examiner that he was "cautiously optimistic that we may be able to reach a path forward by week's end".

These would include waivers from an Affordable Care Act provision that obliges insurers to cover so-called "essential health benefits", including mental health, maternity and substance abuse services. One of about 40 members of the Freedom Caucus, Gosar opposed the bill because it left portions of "Obamacare" intact.

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Trump has repeatedly attacked conservatives for opting not to back the American Health Care Act, threatening to support primaries against those who didn't get behind the bill.

For example, the proposal would allow states to drop the "community rating" requirement of the ACA, which demands that insurers charge the same amount for coverage for people who are the same age.

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told reporters the threesome planned to discuss a range of topics, including health care, during their round, which took place on a sunny spring day ideal for hitting the links. "If conservatives want 100 percent repeal, let's say moderates want 80 percent repeal", Senator Rand Paul told reporters Monday, a day after playing a round of golf with Trump.

Movement on health care accelerated Monday when Pence met separately with both sympathetic members of the moderate Tuesday Group and the entire House Freedom Caucus.

Walking into the GOP conference meeting Tuesday, Rep. Justin Amash, a Freedom Caucus member from MI, repeated that no deal had been reached. "I think they've got a way to go".

Also that day, The Post and Courier newspaper in SC reported that Trump dared Sanford to vote against the overhaul bill. Conservative members, including Rep. Justin Amash of MI and Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, have stood by their stance, saying the House legislation would fail to bring premiums down. We will not see our insurance premiums go lower until the government steps in and puts limits on that industry and puts a cap on them, or until they offer a public option which would then strip money away from the insurance companies, the private insurance companies until they are forced to lower their rates so that people will once again buy the crap that they've been selling to us for decades.

This group has not only felt outside of the process, but has spent much of the past two weeks ripping the Freedom Caucus at every opportunity.