House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) came out of a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence with the understanding that the White House will unveil its second attempt at repealing Obamacare this week – possibly as early as Tuesday.
But Meadows seemed doubtful on whether the House would vote this week before adjourning Thursday for the two-week Easter recess.
“Everybody would love to have this bill passed tomorrow if at all possible, but to put a timeline on that would set an expectation that is not realistic based on the drafting,” he said.
The new bill is supposed to include some compromises that would make it more palatable to Freedom Caucus member and other conservatives who were skittish about the first attempt at legislation, which failed in March.
The compromise would allow states to opt out of forcing insurers to cover 10 essential health benefits in plans, including maternity care and hospitalization. The states could also opt out of forcing insurers to comply with a community rating mandate, which today requires them to offer the same rate to an entire geographic area, and bars them from charging sicker people much more.
But the states would have to get a waiver to opt out of either regulation, and it remains unclear what that waiver would entail.
Even though the new bill is set to give states more freedom, the mandates to cover pre-existing conditions and the allowance for children to remain on their parents’ plan until age 26 remain in place.
Meadows stated that he would be willing to stay in Washington during the Easter break in order to get a good replacement bill on the table.
“Most of us [in the Freedom Caucus] believe that staying here and getting it done, especially if we think we are close to a deal would be important,” he said.
Even if a bill doesn’t come down the pike before Easter break, the GOP will have their work cut out for them when they return in their efforts to undo the burdensome regulations and requirements that come with Obamacare.
It will surely be interesting to see what happens next – and to see if a second try is the charm.