Reports from the White House have confirmed that a new healthcare bill is in the works after the spectacular collapse of the first proposal. A new offer has been made to conservative house republicans by Mike Pence and other top officials of the Trump administration. The closed-door meeting where the offer was made also featured the House Freedom Caucus, a hard-line conservative group that was largely critical in torpedoing the first healthcare proposal from the President. Speaker Paul Ryan withdrew the initial health care bill on March 24 which was certainly headed for an embarrassing defeat.
The new bill has a number of crucial pointers to note. To begin with, states will now have the opportunity to apply for any waivers from the various coverage requirements that were imposed on Obamacare insurers. There is a provision that will prevent insurance companies from refusing to write a policy for someone who already has serious conditions. The Freedom Caucus said that they were looking forward to the new proposal in writing before they can start deliberations on whether to accept it or not.
Chairman of the Freedom Caucus Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina said the meeting with top White House officials was good but also went on to make it clear that in principle there was no deal agreed yet. However, it is not clear yet whether the proposed changes in the new bill will be acceptable to moderate republicans. There was some protest last month on the initial healthcare bill from GOP moderates who felt that the cuts on Medicaid coverage for the poor went too far. And that is not all. There was also concern that the new bill could lead to high premiums for low-income earners in the country as well as older people already in their 50s and 60s.
Rep. Tom McArthur, the leader of the moderate republicans in the house, was also part of the closed door meeting for the new bill. The White House has not minced their words towards the Freedom Caucus for its opposition to the initial healthcare plan. The conservative group has also been viewed as inflexible by fellow GOP members on some of the provisions in the bill. On a tweet sent just a few days after the initial healthcare bill collapsed, Trump said that the stance by the Freedom Caucus risked hurting the entire Republican agenda.
However, ever since, some members of the Freedom Caucus have expressed a genuine desire to move on with the legislation as long as some of the key contentious provisions are addressed. Whether this will happen on the new bill remains to be seen. However, it is clear now for Trump that moving legislations as big as the health care bill is not that simple and the need to manage diverse interests is clearly there. Replacing Obamacare was one of Trump’s most important promises during the campaign and navigating through Congress again to have the new legislation passed will be a true test of his presidency.