GOP finalizes healthcare bill changes; funding battle over ACA subsidies continues

Republicans have finalized a revised plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which includes changes that have brought some conservative GOP lawmakers on board but may have alienated moderates.

The amendment to the American Health Care Act, a copy of which was obtained by Politico, is the result of a deal brokered between House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., who co-chairs the moderate Tuesday Group.

It lets states apply for waivers to opt out of certain ACA provisions, including the essential health benefits requirement and the community rating requirement that prevents insurers from charging sick consumers higher premiums than healthy ones. Congress members and their staff, though, would still be protected under those ACA regulations, a Vox article points out.

The new proposal does appear to be well-received by some Freedom Caucus members whose opposition to the original bill helped tank it, Politico reports. However, many moderates aren’t pleased with the fact that the newest proposal nudges the bill further to the right.

For example, Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., who is a leader in the Tuesday Group, told The Washington Post (sub. req.) that the changes to the bill would make coverage unaffordable for too many people. He is also concerned that the bill retains deep cuts to Medicaid.

Perhaps sensing how difficult it will be to reach consensus even with the new revisions, President Donald Trump told reporters on Monday that it’s possible a new target for passing the bill could be as late as September, according to the Washington Examiner.

Meanwhile, Congress is continuing to negotiate another key piece of the ACA: funding for cost-sharing reduction payments.

As both parties race to agree on a spending bill in order to avoid a partial government shutdown, Democrats are now saying they will agree to $15 million in additional military funding if Republicans agree to continue funding the subsidies, The Hill reports. That’s half of the $30 billion Trump initially requested.

However, those talks are complicated by the fact that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has been reluctant to negotiate with Trump, according to Roll Call.