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Pence, Price Meet With Conservative Lawmakers On Obamacare Repeal

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter

Vice President Mike Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price met with a handful of conservatives in the House who have voiced concerns over certain provisions of the American Health Care Act Tuesday.

Critics of the legislation — made public Monday and introduced Tuesday — have expressed hesitations over the individual tax credits, which they feel creates a new entitlement program, and language pertaining to Medicaid reform.

The White House came out in favor of the plan backed by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, with President Donald Trump praising the bill, but adding there was room for negotiations. The lawmakers who met with Pence described the meeting as productive, adding they felt their concerns were being heard.

“Participants discussed their shared desire for fiscally responsible, market-based reforms that encourage competition and provide individuals and families with the ability to choose the health insurance option that is best for them,” Pence’s office said of the meetings. “The Vice President stressed this is the first step in the process to deliver on the President’s promise to the American people and looks forward to House passage of the American Health Care Act.”

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said he was encouraged by the assurance they were open to change to ensure the bill is conservative and drives costs down.

“It was a good meeting, the vice president is giving us hope that we are going to be able to look at some modifications and amendments to the existing bill and that the president is certainly open to looking those,” Meadows told reporters. “We are looking at a verity of things, but the main main focus is making sure the health-care insurance premiums come down.”

Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker echoed Meadows’ sentiments, saying he felt the open dialogue was constructive.

“I mean we are still listening and processing, sharing our concerns, they’re sharing their potential solutions — it was hopeful to listen that they feel this bill can continue to improve and they’re still processes that can be added to this that would address some of the concerns that certain members have,” he told reporters. “They are open to additional amendments to be able to enhance the bill specifically in certain areas.”

Virginia Rep. Dave Brat, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, has repeatedly said he won’t back legislation that doesn’t bring the cost-curve down or creates a new entitlement program. Brat said the House GOP’s bill maintains most of the insurance regulations, which he would like to see eliminated.

“If you could get rid o the regs, that would go a long way to get me onto this bill,” he told reporters. “And so the Senate is going to have to put the hammer down if they want to work jointly on this and have a real solution that will work for the American people.”

Price said they will continue to work with members to ensure that Obamacare is repealed and replaced.

“We’re going to just keep working with everyone so we can make it happen,” Price told The Daily Caller News Foundation ahead of the meetings.

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