Republican lawmakers expect to evaluate a new provision Wednesday on a bill that would repeal portions of Obamacare, though a vote this week appears doubtful given the priority of passing a spending bill.
Some lawmakers said they were confident they could support the latest version of the bill, the American Health Care Act, though it was unclear whether the changes would satisfy enough centrists.
Though several lawmakers said they had not seen the latest text as they exited the House floor, they referred to an amendment blueprint that has circulated, authored by Republican Centrist Rep. Tom MacArthur of New Jersey, that would allow states to drop an Obamacare provision that prohibits insurers from charging sicker enrollees more. A draft of the bill was leaked by Politico later in the evening.
"I have not seen exact language but it sounds encouraging," said centrist Republican Rep. Chris Collins of New York. "I am guardedly optimistic."
Prior to Tuesday, the latest text made public of the American Health Care Act, amended before Congress left for a two-week recess, called for the creation of invisible risk-sharing pools, which would set aside $15 billion for states to reimburse health insurance companies for covering sicker patients. When asked about the provision, Collins said he hoped it would be in the latest version.
But key centrists remain against the bill, including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and Leonard Lance of New Jersey.
Rep. Morgan Griffith, R.-Va., said that he suspects he'll be supportive of the latest version of the American Health Care Act because he has been supportive of the repeal bill before and he supports giving more power to states.
"I haven't read it so I can't really give you an answer," he said.
But other Freedom Caucus members said they had seen the legislative text and are now evaluating it.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the caucus chairman, said that the full caucus is meeting tomorrow to discuss the amendment. He wouldn't say yet whether he supports it.
Earlier in the day he tweeted, "Obamacare repeal and replace will happen – it's just a matter of when."
Other Freedom Caucus members said they were confident the group could get on board.
Rep. David Brat, R-Va., a caucus member, said that he was supporting the bill and had reviewed the text.
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Az., told reporters that "it seems to me that it is going in a very good direction."
Several lawmakers were doubtful, however, that a vote would happen this week.
"I don't think that anybody is expecting a vote this week," Meadows said.
Other Republicans shared his skepticism on timing.
"Obviously there has been no whip count," Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said. "I am hoping when the dust settles we have enough to get this across the finish line. I am not saying if it is this week."
A senior Republican aide didn't rule out a vote on Obamacare repeal this week, but said that "we are not there yet."
The White House hasn't provided further guidance about a timeline for passing a repeal bill.
The MacArthur amendment would let states opt out of key Obamacare insurance regulations, including mandating that insurers cover essential health benefits like maternity care and hospitalization, and a community ratings price control that obligates insurers to charge an age group the same rate.
While the popular mandate for insurers to provide coverage for people with pre-existing conditions remains untouched, by repealing community rating insurers could make such coverage unaffordable.
To opt out, a state would need to get a waiver from the federal government that attests they will reduce premiums and not reduce coverage.
"I think they're pretty close," said. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., of repeal efforts.
He added: "If they've got an agreement I'm going to vote for it. I've got high regard for Tom McCarthur and Mark Meadows is a friend of mine. If they can come to an agreement I can't imagine it's something I can't support."
Washington Examiner's Al Weaver contributed to this report.