Conservatives back revised health bill, GOP moderates balk

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of N.Y. smiles during a media availability after a policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday

The conservative House Freedom Caucus, which stymied recent efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare last month, announced Wednesday that it is backing the GOP health care bill with the inclusion of the MacArthur Amendment.

After the bill was amended to address the concerns of the very conservative House Freedom Caucus this week, some of those members got onboard - apparently breathing new life into the effort. "Take your time. Get the good vote and make it flawless'". States getting waivers so insurers could charge higher prices to people with illnesses would have to have high-risk pools, or government-subsidized funds to help those consumers cover costs.

But it comes down to this: To pass a measure out of the House and give themselves a supposed accomplishment, and to be able to argue that they are holding down basic health-insurance premiums, Republicans in the House are proposing to subject sick people to myriad and probably uneven systems set up in their various states and to punitive premiums for the crime of being sick.

The White House and congressional Democrats on Wednesday defused a tense standoff over payments for the working poor under the health care law, keeping a massive government spending bill on track just days ahead of a shutdown deadline.

With the amendment, most of the roughly 30-member Freedom Caucus now supports the bill, but there are still at least 21 Republicans members - mostly moderates - who publicly oppose it, according to The Hill's Whip List.

White House and Republican leaders had labored all day to wring votes out of resistant moderate GOP lawmakers for the health care measure. "I think certainly for the Freedom Caucus people, it moves them closer, but for somebody like me, it doesn't".

"Those are the kind of concerns that obviously make me have to think long and hard about it", said moderate Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) on Wednesday.

The math problem House leadership has always had remains the same. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.), Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) have all said previously they're still opposed to the bill even with the changes.

"We still don't know how this amendment changes the net vote total", a senior GOP aide told CNN.

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One moderate Republican who spoke anonymously put it this way to CNN: "I spent the whole work period hearing from people pissed about pre-existing conditions".

- For coverage starting as early as next year, states could seek waivers of federal restrictions on premiums charged to older adults. So people with pre-existing conditions, like high blood pressure or diabetes, would pay significantly more for worse coverage.

The president has been fitfully trying to restart health-care talks after House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., abruptly pulled the American Health Care Act from the floor at the end of March.

In one point of contention, the proposed changes would exempt members and staffers of Congress if their states obtain waivers to Obama's coverage mandates.

"If they have eyes to see, they see how tight this thing is", said Rep. David Brat, R-Va.

HuffPost's Matt Fuller, who has been doing yeoman's work on a whip count, now has 38 GOP members as either against the bill (17), leaning against it (10) or undecided (11).

But this time, the Freedom Caucus has officially backed the bill as a group for the first time.

The White House isn't taking no for an answer: Rep. Brooks said he's spoken with Vice President Mike Pence twice over the phone today, and during one of their conversations, handed the phone to President Trump. Among the 10 categories of benefits are hospital and outpatient care; pregnancy, childbirth and newborn care; mental health and substance abuse treatment; prescription drugs; lab tests; kids' vision and dental care, and rehabilitative care.

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