White House talks progress on reviving long-shot health bill

Ryan said Republicans are talking about reviving the failed health care bill, but said it would be premature to say where the legislation stands or how much support it could garner.

Sending the health care legislation down a more conservative path doesn't make sense when it comes to getting votes in the House.

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at DynaLab, Inc., Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration and Republican lawmakers plan to continue their uphill effort to exhume the House GOP's health care bill, but remain adrift and divided over how to reshape it to attract enough votes to muscle it through the chamber.

The chair of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative U.S. legislators who held up the Trump administration's attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, said that if offers made to the group by the White House appear, the majority would vote for it.

Because the GOP can not reach agreement, President Trump's threat to work with Democrats becomes all the more realistic. The high-risk pool amendment was actually crafted by Freedom Caucus members and is created to ensure that people with preexisting conditions and other illnesses would still be able to afford coverage even without the community ratings regulation.

Ryan credited a breakthrough in negotiations among conservative and moderate factions of the GOP for the progress.

Walker, who orchestrated a meeting between leaders of the top three GOP caucuses - the HFC, RSC and Tuesday Group - and top members of the administration Tuesday evening, said he thinks conservatives and moderates have made substantial progress from where they were two weeks ago. He said talks were in "the conceptual stage". It's likely they'll encounter protests by constituents upset and angry about GOP efforts to roll back health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Congress leaves town in days for a two-week recess, when lawmakers could face antagonistic grilling from voters at town hall meetings and the entire GOP drive might lose momentum.

The new bill will aim at maintaining the essential or core health benefits of Obamacare. The current version of the GOP legislation would erase that coverage requirement but let states reimpose it themselves, language that is opposed by numerous party's moderates.

Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., a leader of the moderate House Tuesday Group, was among moderate lawmakers who met with officials at the White House on Monday, a GOP aide said.

Although both rules increase the cost of individual insurance, patient advocates say they ensure that coverage is standardized, thorough and accessible to those who need it.

When pressed on what those offers would look like, Meadows stayed quiet only stating that some of the caucus's objectives included "making sure that preexisting issues continue to stay protected, making sure that healthcare is affordable".

Needham said up to 20 members of the Freedom Caucus had been ready to support a more conservative proposal, one that would have allowed states to undo most of the mandates. Meadows said talks were boiling down to curbing several of Obama's coverage requirements — a sharp contrast to the full repeal of the statute that many initially demanded. However, since then, Trump has made public statements that indicate the push to overhaul former President Barack Obama's signature health care law is still a priority for the White House.

After an unscheduled Wednesday night meeting between Speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Pence, House Republicans will work Thursday in committee to change part of their health care bill that would repeal and replace Obamacare.

  • Larry Hoffman