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‘The question is whether it can get 216 votes in the House, and the answer isn't clear at this time,’ a senior GOP aide said.
White House is pressuring House GOP leaders for another showdown vote on repealing Obamacare next week so it can notch a legislative win before President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office.
Trump on Thursday predicted that health care legislation would pass "next week or shortly thereafter.” During a joint news conference alongside Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, the president also took issue with the characterization that Republicans gave up on health care after they pulled the original House bill. He reminded reporters that Obamacare was roughly a year-and-half-long effort, while he said he’s only had about two months to negotiate a better deal. Trump, meanwhile, has asked repeatedly — sometimes several times a day — about the status of the health care law and seems more engaged than during last month's failed effort to get Ryan’s American Health Care Act through the chamber, a senior administration official said. The president believes that it will be difficult to gain momentum on other issues without "getting something done on health care," according to one person who spoke with him. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney separately said Thursday the White House is ready to negotiate with Democrats on adding key Obamacare insurance cost-sharing subsidies to a fiscal 2017 spending bill to keep the government running -- if Democrats agree to pay for some of Trump’s priorities,such as defense and border security money.
According to a draft of the tentative deal obtained by POLITICO, the latest proposal would allow states to apply for "limited waivers" that would undermine Obamacare's protections for pre-existing conditions. Under these waivers, states could opt out of Obamacare standards setting minimum benefits that health plans must offer and a requirement — called community rating — forbidding insurers from charging different prices to people based on health status. States opting out of the community rating rules would be forced to set up an "invisible risk-sharing" program aimed at providing a backstop to health plans while preventing sicker patients from being priced out of the market. The hope is that protecting insurers from the most expensive customers will bring down the costs for the rest of the risk pool. That will allow insurers to lower premiums, which in turn will entice more customers into the individual market. Those subsidies, which are at the center of a court battle begun under the Obama administration, help lower-income people pay medical bills and insurance deductibles. Taking them away would prompt insurers to either flee the market or severely hike premiums to cover those costs. Despite calls from the health care industry, business groups and Democrats to continue the payments, the White House has yet to tip its hand.
(Paul Demko, Adam Cancryn and Nolan D. McCaskill contributed to this story.)