Trump adds little clarity to debate over how healthcare law would affect those with preexisting conditions

Donald Trump
President Trump said in an interview Sunday that the GOP's revised healthcare bill includes "a clause that guarantees” coverage for people with preexisting conditions. Image: Gage Skidmore

President Donald Trump said this weekend that Republicans’ revised healthcare bill will “beautifully” protect individuals with preexisting conditions, but he didn't make it clear how that would work.

During an interview Sunday with CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Trump said that “preexisting conditions are in the bill,” adding that “we have—we've set up a pool for the preexisting conditions so that the premiums can be allowed to fall.”

He later noted that the bill includes "a clause that guarantees” coverage for people with preexisting conditions.

Indeed, one clause of the amendment to the American Health Care Act authored by Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., states that “nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to limit access to health coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions.”

Yet the amendment also allows states to apply for waivers to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s community rating provision, which essentially requires insurers to charge both sick and healthy consumers the same standard premium. In order to do so, states would have to meet certain requirements, but as Kaiser Family Foundation Senior Vice President Larry Levitt pointed out on Twitter, they don't necessarily have to set up a high-risk pool:

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The changes to the bill won the support of the House Freedom Caucus, which had a hand in torpedoing the original version of the AHCA, and other conservative groups.

But that aspect of the amendment has made moderates leery of supporting it, preventing Republicans from being able to vote on the full bill before the end of Trump’s first 100 days in office.

RELATED: Pre-ACA, preexisting conditions long vexed states, insurers

The revisions also led groups like the American Medical Association to oppose the bill, as they say it now makes coverage unaffordable for individuals with preexisting conditions. In fact, the MacArthur amendment “makes the bill even less acceptable than it was before it was modified,” according to the American College of Physicians.

Even with those roadblocks, however, top Republicans are insisting that a vote on the revised bill is imminent, Politico reports. Congress is set to leave for a one-week recess on Thursday, and some GOP leaders are worried that the party will lose momentum on the measure if it doesn’t vote on it before then.