Divisions Remain When It Comes To Repealing Obamacare

CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 4/3/2017, 4:45 p.m.
There still hasn't been a breakthrough on health care despite President Donald Trump's continued claim that lawmakers are getting closer ...

(CNN) -- There still hasn't been a breakthrough on health care despite President Donald Trump's continued claim that lawmakers are getting closer and closer to making one.

After publicly deriding members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus last week and threatening to work with Democrats if Freedom Caucus members wouldn't get in line, Trump adjusted his tone Sunday night in a tweet: "Anybody (especially Fake News media) who thinks that Repeal & Replace of ObamaCare is dead does not know the love and strength in R Party!"

"Talks on Repealing and Replacing Obamacare are, and have been, going on, and will continue until such time as a deal is hopefully struck," Trump tweeted.

House leaders, including Speaker Paul Ryan, say they have encouraged discussions among rank-and-file members, but the bottom line is that the fundamental differences that prohibited moderates and conservatives from coming together to vote for a piece of repeal and replace legislation more than a week ago now, remain.

"Conversations continue to take place, but I would downplay anything beyond that," a senior source familiar with the health care debate told CNN.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus have scaled back their initial request. They still want to repeal the Essential Health Benefits, requirements that insurers have to cover services like maternity care, mental health care and hospitalization, in their plans. But, the House Freedom Caucus also continues to ask for a repeal of community rating provisions, rules that dictate insurers cannot discriminate against consumers on the basis of gender or health status.

Some moderates were already opposed to repealing Essential Health Benefits when they were included in a last-minute deal last time around. Repealing even more regulations would only further aggravate tensions with moderates.

Trump golfed with conservative Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a vehement critic of the House's American Health Care Act, Sunday where Paul said that he remained "very optimistic that we will get an Obamacare repeal."

In a meeting with reporters on Monday, Paul said he suggested Trump try a new strategy on health care during their round of golf.

Paul suggested that instead of trying to get enough members to "yes" on leadership's bill, Trump should move on and try his approach.

Paul advocated to leave parts of Obamacare in place -- like some amount of subsidies -- to assuage moderates. Paul argued that would give conservatives the freedom of mind to know they weren't voting for a new entitlement program even though the Obamacare subsidies remained. Paul acknowledged that Trump and his allies were still committed to trying to get House leadership's bill through.

"I think where they are is still trying to make it work with what they have and getting people to accept what they have with very small tweaks to the existing bill," Paul said.

But, behind the scenes, lawmakers have struggled to find consensus. On Capitol Hill, members of the House Freedom Caucus and the moderate Tuesday Group have struggled to rebuild trust following the health care debacle in March.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows confirmed to CNN Monday morning that his group had still not had any formal discussions with the Tuesday group despite the fact Meadows said his group had reached out to moderates on no less than five or six occasions.

Even if Trump hopes there will be a deal, time is running out and members have a growing list of to-dos on their legislative calendar including keeping the government funded by April 28.

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