House Freedom Caucus Reaches Compromise on American Health Care Act
The House Freedom Caucus – the 32 conservative and libertarian members of the House of Representatives who entered the news recently for stymieing President Trump’s effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act – has announced they have reached a compromise in the replacement bill.
“Over the past couple of months, House conservatives have worked tirelessly to improve the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to make it better for the American people,” the Freedom Caucus said in a statement. “Due to improvements to the AHCA and the addition of Rep. Tom MacArthur’s proposed amendment, the House Freedom Caucus has taken an official position in support of the current proposal.”
The proposed amendment, fittingly known as the MacArthur-Meadows amendment, keeps in place some of the more popular provisions of the ACA – like prohibitions on denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions and allowing adult children to remain on their parent’s plan until the age of 26. However, the compromise allowing states apply for a waiver to these provisions as long as they can prove it will reduce the cost of care or improve coverage.
The McArthur amendment would also permit states to waive some community rating rules. These rules require insurance companies to set premium rates at the same level for all people within certain demographic categories, like location, age, gender, lifestyle factors like weight, occupation and – most critically – health history. This possibly opens the door for insurance companies to charge higher premiums for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
While conservatives in the Republican Party are getting on board, some of these changes are causing moderate members of the party to withdraw their support. Critics of the plan say that this addition would cause costs to spike for individuals who need these services the most and possible cause patients not to have coverage for an unexpected diagnosis.
Furthermore, the amendment does not address concerns that moderates had to begin with, like an $880 billion spending reduction for Medicaid.
The debate over the bill is still ongoing, but its ultimate fate is still up in the air. While originally a vote was expected this week, before the vote on a crucial spending bill to keep the government funded, this now seems unlikely. House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would not hold a vote until he was certain they had the votes, which is still far from certain. After this, the Senate must approve the law as well, before going to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.
Be sure to check back with us as we continue to keep you informed about the latest developments in healthcare reform.