A top House Republican said Democrats need to make concessions that make them “wince” in order to get a vote on two Obamacare stabilization bills.
The comments from Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., Monday comes less than a week after the two bills looked headed for passage in the Senate after a deal to get Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to support tax reform. But while President Trump and Senate GOP leadership gave support for the bills, such a commitment in the House has been lacking.
Cole, a member of the House’s whip team, said the two bills are going to be a tough sell to Republican as they're currently written.
“If that is what you want to get through, you had better put something with it that Republicans like because in the package right now there isn’t anything commensurate with what they are being asked to give up,” he told reporters on Monday.
The commitment from the Senate GOP and Trump to support the two bills was crucial to getting Collins to vote for tax reform on early Saturday. Collins has said the two bills can help blunt the impact of repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate that everyone get insurance.
“I have an ironclad commitment from the White House and the [Senate] majority leader that the [bills] will become law before the end of the year,” she said.
But House Speaker Paul Ryan was missing from that list. Collins responded that Trump could hold a lot of sway.
“You don’t think that the president has influence with people on the House?” she said.
But it is a major question mark if Trump’s influence is enough.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said Monday a lot of his members in the conservative House Freedom Caucus have concerns about the bills.
Collins secured a commitment for two bills. The first sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., restores Obamacare insurer payments for two years and in return gives states more latitude to waive Obamacare insurer regualtions.
Collins and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., sponsored the second bill that gives states $10 billion in reinsurance funding over two years. Reinsurance funding would help cover the sickest claims from insurers on Obamacare’s exchanges, which in return would lead to lower premiums.
After receiving commitments from leadership and Trump, Collins voted for a tax reform bill that repealed the law’s individual mandate that everyone buy insurance. Collins also got several other concessions including expanding the medical expense deduction and relief for homeowners from the elimination of the state and local tax deduction.
But Cole said he didn’t believe that getting mandate repeal was a concession for Democrats.
“We are gonna get that regardless if they want it or not,” he said. “If we get it then it will be on the tax bill and none of them are helping us with the tax bill.”
He hinted that more needed to be added to the bills to get Republican support. Cole said one issue could be tort reform.
But some Republicans said they could get on board. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., who is retiring after next year, said that she supports both bills.
“Anytime Susan Collins is involved with negotiations I feel better,” she said.
Washington Examiner Senior Healthcare Writer Kimberly Leonard contributed to this report.