House conservatives are holding their ground in opposing the GOP’s health care bill, even after leaders made additional changes to the plan in an attempt to find middle ground and President Donald Trump delivered a stern warning to the conference Tuesday morning.
Republicans released their changes to their health care bill Monday night, which were rolled out in an effort to boost support from the House’s conservative and centrist members who oppose the Obamacare repeal plan, called the American Health Care Act.
The bill now gives states the option to choose between federal block grants for Medicaid or caps on how much in Medicaid funds is allotted to them per person.
It also gives states the option to implement Medicaid work requirements. And it moves up a repeal of Obamacare’s taxes to this year, increases the Medicaid inflation adjustment for the elderly and disabled, creates a reserve fund to boost tax credits for the low-income elderly, and makes Medicaid changes for New York.
Republican leaders are working to muscle the bill through the House, which is slated to vote on the plan Thursday, and they brought in Trump to close the deal.
Trump, meeting with GOP lawmakers behind closed doors, issued a warning: Pass the bill repealing and replacing Obamacare, or lose your seats and the House majority in 2018, according to reports.
The president also took to calling out by name Republican lawmakers who oppose the legislation. During the meeting, Trump addressed Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who supported the president during the campaign but whose group of roughly 40 conservative House members has the power to derail Thursday’s vote.
“Oh, Mark, I’m coming after you,” Trump told Meadows in jest. “I hope Mark will be with us in the end.”
Leaving the meeting at the Capitol, the president told reporters he was optimistic the health care bill would pass the House on Thursday.
“I think we’ll have a winner vote. We’re going to have a real winner,” Trump told reporters. “It was a great meeting. These are terrific people, and they want a tremendous health care plan, and that’s what we have, but there are going to be adjustments made. But I think we’ll get the votes on Thursday.”
But Trump’s hard-charging message to conservatives who oppose the legislation didn’t convince some members of the Freedom Caucus.
Meadows told reporters after the meeting that he still opposes the bill, despite Trump singling him out at the meeting.
“I’m still a ‘no’ because the bill we’re currently considering does not lower [health insurance] premiums for the vast majority of Americans,” Meadows said.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who previously chaired the Freedom Caucus, also said that despite Trump’s warning, he, too, still opposes the legislation.
Freedom Caucus member Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., said the GOP’s health care bill doesn’t do anything to solve “the primary problem,” the price of premiums.
“Obamacare played almost exclusive attention to coverage. The CBO and this current bill pay attention to coverage, but people have coverage, and they can’t get health care,” Brat, who opposed the bill in the House Budget Committee, told The Daily Signal. “You have coverage, but you have an $11,000 deductible in the bronze-level plan, so you can’t go access health care, and that’s a problem.”
Brat said during the meeting, Trump “put on a solid sales pitch” and said he wanted to pass the health care bill so Congress could move on to other priorities such as tax reform. But, the Virginia Republican said, the GOP has to “make sure we get this part of the economy right.”
In addition to the Freedom Caucus, other lawmakers have come out in opposition to the bill despite Trump’s arm-twisting.
Freshman Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., said in a statement today he couldn’t support the GOP’s health care plan.
“This bill leaves the structure of Obamacare in place and does not provide the relief that North Carolina families need from high premiums,” he said.
And Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., took to Twitter to restate his intent to vote against the bill.
Due to my concern over lack of verification that tax credits won't go to people unlawfully in US, I can't support AHCA in its current form.
— Rep. Lou Barletta (@RepLouBarletta) March 21, 2017
Heading into the final few days before the House is set to vote on the bill, Republican lawmakers are facing pressure from all sides of the Obamacare repeal debate.
While Trump is urging the GOP to pass the health care bill, conservative groups are urging lawmakers to vote against it.
Heritage Action for America, the lobbying affiliate of The Heritage Foundation, issued a “key vote” against the bill Thursday.
Barring additional changes, the AHCA keeps the architecture of ObamaCare (Title I regs) in place. Heritage Action will be keyvoting against.
— Michael Needham (@MikeNeedham) March 21, 2017
Additionally, Club for Growth launched an ad campaign targeting 10 centrist Republicans and urging them to oppose what it called “Ryancare.”
“Republicans promised a bill that would stop Obamacare’s taxes and mandates, and replace them with free-market reforms that will increase health insurance competition and drive down costs,” Club for Growth President David McIntosh said in a statement. “Ryancare fails on those counts.”