Republicans Look Closer To Repealing Obamacare Than Ever

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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President Donald Trump and Republican leadership may be as close as they have ever been to repealing and replacing Obamacare with the newly amended American Health Care Act (AHCA) floating around Congress Wednesday.

Tuesday Group leader Rep. Tom MacArthur of New Jersey and House Freedom Caucus (HFC) Chairman Mark Meadows struck a deal Wednesday, proposing amendments to the AHCA that would allow conservatives to throw their support behind the measure.

Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have faced some significant obstacles in making good on their promise to overhaul former President Barack Obama’s landmark health care legislation. The process was derailed March for a number of reasons, including opposition from Democrats and conservative Republicans and differences in policy implementation.

For Democrats, the hang-ups centered on whether or not Republicans would continue funding a little-known feature of Obamacare called cost-sharing reductions (CSRs). Insurers are required under the current system to provide CSRs to low and moderate income individuals who participate in the exchanges. (RELATED: The Potentially ‘Unconstitutional’ Feature Of Obamacare)

The White House announced Wednesday that it would continue paying CSRs and subsidies that help low-income individuals obtain health insurance coverage on the exchanges. The move temporarily stymies an ongoing debate about subsidy payments between Democrat and Republican lawmakers.

While the CSR payments could work to squelch some of the concerns among Democrats, some will still likely be dissatisfied. Trump’s tax proposal released Wednesday will be a point of contention for Democratic lawmakers. The bill guts the 3.8 percent Obamacare tax imposed on investment income — one of the sources of revenue for the legislation.

Conservatives posed problems for Trump and Ryan in March after members of the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) and the moderate Tuesday Group opposed the American Health Care Act. Both groups are now either throwing their support behind Republican’s revised proposal or are signaling their willingness to do so. (RELATED: Meet The Group Of Conservatives Holding Up Health Care Reform)

The HFC formally endorsed the Republican proposal Wednesday.

“While the revised version still does not fully repeal Obamacare, we are prepared to support it to keep our promise to the American people to lower healthcare costs,” HFC said in a statement. The Tuesday Group has yet to signal its full support, but its ongoing negotiations with the HFC bodes well for Trump and Republican leadership.

Conservative groups are also throwing their weight behind Obamacare repeal. Groups Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity pledged their support Wednesday.

A vote on health care reform is expected as early as Friday, Axios reports. Lawmakers are also expected to reach some form of continuing resolution to keep the government from shutting down.

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