ACA repeal and replace: What the Freedom Caucus wants

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The House Freedom Caucus still wants Republicans to pass a healthcare bill, but it has certain stipulations.

As congressional Republicans struggle for consensus on healthcare policy, one of the primary architects of that discord—the House Freedom Caucus—has publicly laid out its demands.

In a recent meeting with the editorial board of the Washington Examiner, members of the hardline conservative voting bloc said they want four main Affordable Care Act regulations repealed: The individual mandate, the employer mandate, the essential health benefits that stipulate what services health plans must cover and the “community rating” rule, which limits the factors insurers can use when setting premiums.

Freedom Caucus member Jim Jordan told the publication that “every major healthcare policy expert” says the latter two regulations are responsible for driving up premiums, which is why they must be repealed.

Axing the essential health benefits was one of the concessions that GOP House leadership considered adding into the American Health Care Act to appease conservatives. Ultimately, it was not enough to garner the votes, and the bill was pulled before it reached the House floor.

The Freedom Caucus, however, has decided not to fight the concept of refundable tax credits for consumers that was included in the failed GOP bill. While members still believe their initial criticism—that the tax credits are a new entitlement—they’ve decided that the primary goal is to lower premiums, Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said.

The Freedom Caucus’ new comments come amid recent tweets from President Donald Trump that signal hostility toward the conservative lawmakers who stymied the healthcare bill he supported.

But conservative groups are now urging GOP unity on the issue. Republicans—including Trump—campaigned on a platform of fully repealing the ACA, and can’t just walk away, Andy Roth, vice president of the Club for Growth, said in a press call Friday, according to The Hill.

And on a separate call Friday, Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham said “the House needs to work with conservatives to craft a bill that truly repeals and replaces Obamacare.”

Recent reports have indicated that Republicans may try to vote again on the AHCA, perhaps as early as next week. However, it is unclear whether efforts to resurrect it will be successful.  

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