The White House is expected to release the text of a new proposal on Tuesday that would give states the power to opt out of certain Obamacare insurance mandates, in a major attempt to revive Obamacare repeal as early as this week.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters after meeting with Vice President Mike Pence and White House officials that he expects the text of the new compromise on Tuesday. But Meadows seemed doubtful on whether the House would vote this week before adjourning Thursday for the two-week Easter recess.
"Everybody would love to have this bill passed tomorrow if at all possible, but to put a timeline on that would set an expectation that is not realistic based on the drafting," he said.
Meadows said he would be willing to stay in town, but said he doesn't speak for the whole caucus of between 35-40 members.
"Most of us [in the Freedom Caucus] believe that staying here and getting it done, especially if we think we are close to a deal would be important," he said.
The proposal could be a way forward for Republicans once they return from their spring break, and give them a chance to make good on an Obamacare repeal bill after their big public failure in March. The first bill had to be pulled after it became clear that not enough HFC members could support it, leaving Republicans without a majority in the House.
But just days after President Trump wrote off the effort, Republicans said they had to try again to make good on the goal of getting rid of Obamacare.
The compromise would allow states to opt out of forcing insurers to cover 10 essential health benefits in plans, including maternity care and hospitalization. The states could also opt out of forcing insurers to comply with a community rating mandate, which today requires them to offer the same rate to an entire geographic area, and bars them from charging sicker people much more.
But the states would have to get a waiver to opt out of either regulation, and it remains unclear what that waiver would entail.
Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., said earlier Monday that states would have to attest that they won't reduce coverage in order to get the waiver.
Meadows said that a waiver should be "easily granted" to states, but didn't offer any specifics because he hasn't seen the legislative text.
Meadows added that the mandates for insurers to cover people with preexisting conditions and letting kids stay on parents' plan until 26 years of age will remain in place.
However, the community rating mandate was a key driver for ensuring coverage for people with preexisting conditions. Without the mandate, insurers could charge people with preexisting conditions exorbitantly high prices, making coverage hard to achieve. A community rating, which forces insurers to charge the same rate throughout a geographic area, would ensure that insurers couldn't charge a person with preexisting conditions.
Meadows said that a $115 billion stability fund that was already part of the bill that failed in March, spread out among states, could help offset any such major spikes for people with preexisting conditions. States can decide how to use the funding given to them and can use it for risk sharing.
"If someone's premiums went up the risk sharing at the state level would kick in to either fully subsidize or bring those premiums down to a normal range," he said. "That is why you have $115 billion out there."