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House Freedom Caucus Shows Support For New Obamacare Repeal

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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The House Freedom Caucus (HFC) is signaling its willingness to throw support behind Republicans’ newest plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Following the humiliating defeat of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in March, the White House and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan are desperately trying to court conservatives and moderate Republicans behind some version of Obamacare repeal.

HFC Chairman, Congressman Mark Meadows, proved to be a formidable roadblock for President Donald Trump and Republican leadership during the first repeal effort. The North Carolina congressman was able to whip conservatives into standing against the AHCA, which, in addition to unanimous Democratic opposition, proved enough to kill it.

The chairman said Thursday that the group wants to see health insurance waivers related to community ratings — a feature of Obamacare that bars insurers from charging different premium rates with exceptions based on age and cost-of-living.

If those offers that were made over the last couple of days actually appear in the legislation, the majority, if not almost all of the Freedom Caucus, will vote for this bill,” Meadows told reporters Thursday.

The HFC is facing criticism for its opposition to the repeal bill Trump and Ryan proposed. The president led the charge, taking swings at the group after it stood against the AHCA.

“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. The president also directly called out Meadows and others in the HFC leadership.

Conservative group Heritage Action’s CEO Mike Needham came out in full support of Meadows and the HFC on a phone call with reporters Wednesday morning.

Needham called the HFC the “grown ups in the room,” throughout the process of negotiating Obamacare repeal, during a phone call with reporters. The executive said the HFC has been one of the few groups willing to negotiate. He also believes they remain consistent in their policy preferences and recommendations.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy hinted Thursday morning that the new effort is gaining momentum but that any push for a vote will not come for a matter of weeks.

“I realize how important it is to keep up momentum so be assured that conversations will continue … should we be prepared to advance our bill through the House in the coming two weeks, we will advise members immediately and give you sufficient time to return to Washington,” McCarthy wrote Thursday morning in an e-mail to House Republicans.

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