What You Need to Know About the GOP’s Second Health Care Attempt

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After bungling an attempt to overhaul Obamacare last month, it looks like Republicans will give health care reform another go. Tom MacArthur, a Republican congressman from New Jersey, recently proposed an amendment to the failed GOP effort, the American Health Care Act, eponymously titled the MacArthur Amendment. First reported by Politico on Thursday, the amendment is an attempt to placate moderate Republicans and far-right conservatives like the House Freedom Caucus, a bloc that helped sink the original bill.

President Donald Trump, whose 100th day in office–a standard marker of a president’s effectiveness–is on April 29, is seeking a legislative victory. But Congress will have its plate full next week, as it rushes to pass a government spending bill and, perhaps more important than passing a new health care bill, needs to come together to avoid a government shutdown. Trump, in a news conference on Thursday, sounded fairly confident that the new health care plan would rally House Republicans–something the first attempt utterly failed to do.

“We have a good chance of getting it soon,” Trump said. “I’d like to say next week, but it will be — I believe we will get it. And whether it’s next week or shortly thereafter.” The president, cognizant of the 100-day review tradition, added: “The plan gets better and better and better, and it’s gotten really, really good, and a lot of people are liking it a lot.”

MacArthur’s proposed changes to the AHCA, which did not make it to the House floor for a vote, revolve around giving states the option of opting out of requirements if they show growth. For instance, the amendment retains the requirements for insurers to offer guaranteed coverage for emergency services and maternity care, and pre-existing conditions must also be covered.

But if states prove that without those guaranteed coverages, premiums would dip, the number of insured would climb, or the “the public interest of the state” is advanced, then that state could seek a waiver for guaranteed coverage. States could circumvent the pre-existing coverage guarantee if they establish high-risk pools. These changes are designed to bring the party’s center and right flanks to agreement.

In a Facebook statement on Thursday, MacArthur, the architect of the amended bill, said: “This amendment will make coverage of pre-existing conditions sacrosanct for all Americans and ensures essential health benefits remains the federal standard.” Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House from Wisconsin, hinted that the effort could be ready for a floor vote soon: “We’re in the midst of negotiating sort of finishing touches,” he said.

Alec Siegel
Alec Siegel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. When he’s not working at Law Street he’s either cooking a mediocre tofu dish or enjoying a run in the woods. His passions include: gooey chocolate chips, black coffee, mountains, the Animal Kingdom in general, and John Lennon. Baklava is his achilles heel. Contact Alec at ASiegel@LawStreetMedia.com.



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