Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., leader of the centrist Tuesday Group, has told the Washington Examiner that he still opposes the House Republican healthcare repeal bill, saying that a proposed compromise does not address his key concerns.
Last week, Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., a co-chairman of the centrist group, and conservative Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., hashed out the outline of a compromise that would allow states to opt out of more Obamacare regulations while leaving them the default at the federal level.
After noting that he hasn't seen any legislative language, Dent said, "Based on what I've read, it does not change my position. I was a no, and I remain a no."
Dent said the proposed deal did not address his core concerns regarding Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, which his state elected to participated in and the House bill would aim to phase out. In addition, he said he had concerns about the loss of coverage from repeal and the ability of low-income individuals to access healthcare.
"I took everybody at their word when they said they wanted to reform healthcare and make it better," he said of his fellow Republicans.
Asked to respond to conservatives who argue that they're just trying to hold Republicans to their promises to repeal Obamacare and that funding the Medicaid expansion and maintaining the core regulations would not be repeal, Dent said, "By that argument, keeping the ban on pre-existing conditions would not be repealing Obamacare."
Dent said that there were parts of the law that he wanted to keep, but he believes the law has also caused problems in the insurance market, such as higher premiums and deductibles.
Conservatives have cited the need to reduce premiums as a reason for supporting stripping out Obamacare regulations, such as mandated health benefits and limits on how much insurers can charge based on health status.
When asked how he would prefer to reduce premiums without removing Obamacare's regulations, Dent said, "That's the $64,000 question."
When pressed further on whether there were any ideas for reducing premiums that have been proposed that he would support, he said he didn't want to get into a negotiation with a reporter in an interview, though he eventually cited medical liability reform as one idea he could get behind.
Dent complained that, "too much of the conversation has been driven by arbitrary deadlines," referring to the initial push to pass the legislation last month, on the seventh anniversary of Obamacare becoming law, and the talk of trying to get something done in the first 100 days of the Trump presidency.