GOP health bill amendment to revive Obamacare repeal effort

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) holds a copy of the new healthcare bill introduced by Republicans on March 17 as Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California looks on. A new amendment may increase the odds of the GOP plan passing a House vote. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

April 20 (UPI) — House Republicans are launching a new effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, by amending the failed American Health Care Act.

The proposal aims to increase the approval by Freedom Caucus members and moderate members of Congress. The deal was brokered by centrist Tuesday Group co-chair Tom MacArthur and hard-right Freedom Caucus head Mark Meadows.

The proposed MacArthur Amendment to the AHCA would give states more flexibility to opt out of major provisions in the ACA while also preserving popular protections like the law’s ban on discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, Politico reported.

But the latest proposal would allow states to apply for “limited waivers” set to undermine the ACA’s protections for pre-existing conditions. The waivers allow states to opt out of ACA standards setting minimum benefits that health plans must offer. The waiver also allows states to opt out of the community rating requirement that prevents insurers from charging different prices based on a client’s health status.

A Freedom Caucus source told CNBC the amendment would secure 25 to 30 “yes” votes from the organization and that the revised bill would get “very close” to the 216 votes needed to pass.

House Speaker Paul Ryan in late March canceled the House vote over the GOP’s first effort under President Donald Trump to repeal and replace the ACA after it became clear the effort would not pass. Ryan described the death of the bill as a “disappointing day.”

Trump strongly supported and courted members of Congress to push for them to support the AHCA. All Democrats, some moderates and several members of the Freedom Caucus opposed the bill.

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Many Freedom Caucus members said they did not support the bill because it did not do enough to dismantle Obamacare. After the loss, Trump targeted the Freedom Caucus on Twitter.

“The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!” Trump tweeted.

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