House leaders delayed a scheduled vote on their embattledhealth-care bill as conservatives mulled a deal proposed by theTrump administration aimed at winning Republican holdouts’support.

|

Related: Trump says GOP must pass ACA bill or risk losingseats

|

The House had been planning to hold a vote Thursday, but asenior GOP aide says that will be delayed. White Housespokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the White House expects the billwill pass Friday morning.

|

A key House conservative said that progress is being made butthey are continuing to evaluate the White House’s proposal.

|

“We are going to get to the finish line,” House Freedom CaucusChairman Mark Meadows said Thursday afternoon. The text of the deal“is not in enough of a form to make a good, informed decision.”

|

Stocks fell after Republicans delayed the vote, with theStandard & Poor’s 500 Index reversing gains from earlier in theday to drop 0.1 percent at 3:40 p.m. in New York. Hospital stockswere up, as the Bloomberg Intelligence North America HospitalsValuation Peer Group rose 1.8 percent.

|

The delay came hours after Meadows said his group hadn’t reachedagreement following a White House meeting with President DonaldTrump.

|

The Trump administration made what it called a final offer tothe group that includes repealing the so-called essential benefitsrequirements in Obamacare for the individual market only, not foremployer-based plans, according to the White House official whospoke on condition of anonymity.

|

The Freedom Caucus, which has been calling for a broader repealof Obamacare than envisioned in the current bill, held a meetingThursday to discuss the offer.

|

“It’s really in the hands of members there to accept or rejectthe White House’s offer,” Representative Patrick McHenry, a memberof the GOP vote-counting team, told reporters.

|

A group of House moderates are scheduled to meet with Trumplater Thursday.

|

Related: Ryan plan tweaks health-care bill to help olderpeople

|

“The president has been on the phone with scores ofRepublicans," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer toldreporters Thursday. “This bill has truly been a collaborativeeffort from the beginning.”

|

Negotiations over the GOP Obamacare repeal measure dragged lateinto Wednesday night, and Republicans postponed until Thursday akey procedural step before the bill gets to the floor.

|

The GOP bill would reverse massive gains in health coverageunder the Affordable Care Act, which brought the uninsured rate toa record low. The proposal would pull hundreds of billions ofdollars out of the health system by winding down Obamacare’sexpansion of Medicaid and limiting its subsidies, threateningrevenues for hospitals, doctors and insurance companies.

|

Holdouts in the House Freedom Caucus also pushed for changes inObamacare’s requirements that insurers cover people withpre-existing conditions, but the White House gave them a hard no,according to a White House official.

‘Pre-existing conditions’

Meadows of North Carolina disputed that. “Addressingpre-existing conditions has always been a requirement for anyreplacement plan that HFC would support,” he said lateWednesday.

|

Meadows said earlier Thursday that there was no deal yet withthe White House, and that it was too early to tell if one would bereached. House Republicans leaders delayed a conference meetingscheduled for Thursday morning.

|

“We know the areas that have to be addressed and are stillworking to find consensus,” Meadows said Thursday morning in anemail. “We do not have a deal, but remain optimistic that allparties are working in good faith for the benefit of the people weserve. It would be premature to suggest that there are enough votesto get it passed in the House.”

|

The House Rules Committee, which will make final changes to thebill before it gets a floor vote, postponed a session that lastedfor more than 12 hours on Wednesday as the talks with theconservatives dragged on. The committee plans to reconveneThursday, finalize changes to the bill and set the rules for how itwill be debated in the full House.

|

Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have been working to win overconservative rebels who stand in the way of their Obamacarereplacement measure.

Losing moderates?

Yet as Trump and Ryan pick up conservative members with some ofthe potential changes, they risk losing moderates. RepublicanRepresentative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, leader of the moderateTuesday Group in the House, reiterated Thursday morning that hewould oppose the bill.

|

Related: White House wooing GOP holdouts on health plan maybackfire

|

"I just feel this bill misses the mark,” Dent told MSNBC in aninterview. Dent issued a statement Wednesday saying he believes thebill “will lead to the loss of coverage and make insuranceunaffordable for too many Americans, particularly forlow-to-moderate income and older individuals.”

|

Republican Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washingtonalso came out Thursday against the bill. The list of GOPdefections also includes Staten Island’s Dan Donovan, as well assouthern New Jersey’s Frank LoBiondo, Iowa’s David Young andFlorida’s Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, none of whom are members of theFreedom Caucus.

|

Meadows and other conservative Freedom Caucus members have beendemanding changes to the essential benefits portion of theAffordable Care Act, which requires insurers to cover 10 categoriesof services. Those services include hospitalization, ambulanceservices, maternity care, pediatric services, mental health andsubstance abuse treatment, prescription drugs, rehabilitative careand laboratory services.

|

The goal of limiting the required essential health benefitswould be to bring down health insurance premiums. Freedom Caucusfounder Representative Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican, told FoxNews Thursday that members haven’t been shown any amendments oragreements in writing yet. “We want to see the language first” andmake sure “it does what needs to be done.”

Senate rules

It’s unclear whether changes to these requirements could surviveprocedural challenges in the Senate.

|

Related: GOP bill's Medicaid cuts draw fire as House floorvote looms

|

“What the proponents aren’t telling conservative HouseRepublicans is that the plan to repeal essential health benefitswill almost certainly not be permissible under Senatereconciliation rules,” Matt House, a spokesman for SenateDemocratic leader Chuck Schumer, said in a statement lateWednesday.

|

“It will require 60 votes to repeal these protections, and thevotes just aren’t there in the Senate.”

|

On Wednesday, Alyssa Farah, a spokeswoman for the FreedomCaucus, wrote on Twitter that more than 25 members of the groupremain opposed -- enough to defeat the bill -- and that GOP leadersshould “start over.”

|

Freedom Caucus members said White House officials made the pitchthat conservatives should pass the bill so that the Senate canamend it and address their concerns, but several lawmakers saidthey weren’t buying it.

|

“Pence made a play for more support for the bill based on theSenate being able to change it,” Representative Randy Weber said inan interview, adding that he’s still a no. “That’s a hard row tohoe.”

|

“Because we’d like for it to be as strong as possible going overto the Senate,” he added.

|

Weber said many Republicans were elected to Congress because ofObamacare, and said they can’t wait years for costs to come down.“In 10 years none of us will be here," he said. "Probably at thisrate, in two years none of us will be here.”

|

Copyright 2018 Bloomberg. All rightsreserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten,or redistributed.

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.