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freedom caucus ready for obamacare replacement that expands hsas, bans abortion funding

freedom caucus ready for obamacare replacement that expands hsas, bans abortion funding News Article With The full text news and with Resource Link at the bottom of the text and you can View this News Article in the source page.

freedom caucus ready for obamacare replacement that expands hsas, bans abortion funding

sen. rand paul (r-ky.) during a senate small business committee hearing in washington on jan. 24. (aaron p. bernstein/bloomberg)

house conservatives, frustrated by the house and senate gop’s signals on what a replacement of the affordable care act might look like, are looking at joint legislation from rep. mark sanford (r-s.c.) and sen. rand paul (r-ky.) as their preferred replacement. that legislation would expand health savings accounts, eliminate most regulations on what plans must cover and prevent the funding of abortions through hsas.

part of the rationale for backing this: paul’s bill exists, and the frequently rebranded plan from gop leadership does not. “there seems to be a coalescing around principles; i don’t think it’s gotten deep in the weeds about what it will actually include yet,” sanford said of the larger gop effort.

sanford was among the freedom caucus members who met monday night, with a 15-minute visit from vice president pence — who, as a member of the house, had been among the most active conservatives. the caucus members, who do not take any position unless 80 percent of them come to an agreement, left the meeting in agreement that this year’s repeal bill needed to be “at least as good” as the 2015 budget reconciliation measure that was passed by republicans and blocked by then-president barack obama.

“the 2015 resolution is the floor,” said rep. scott perry (r-pa.) at a roundtable for reporters tuesday. “we all approved of that in 2015. there should be no reason we can’t approve of that again.”

the sanford-paul bill, which will be released at a news conference wednesday, mirrors the 2015 budget resolution by scrapping most of the aca. according to a fact sheet provided to the washington post on tuesday, the bill would eliminate the aca’s essential health benefit requirements, end antitrust laws for health-care providers “to increase competition and drive down prices for consumers,” and turn medicaid into a block-grant program for states.

like every possible gop replacement of the aca, the sanford-paul bill would allow customers to buy health insurance plans across state lines. the idea has an iffy record of success; a 2016 study by kaiser health news found that georgia legalized interstate insurance sale in 2011, and found no takers even as the aca went into effect.

the bill’s main replacement for the coverage expanded by the aca, and now at risk, is a reform of health savings accounts that would allow them to be used for premiums and an expanded menu of preventive care. it would also offer a tax credit, “up to $5,000 per taxpayer, to fund the plans.” there’s one exception; the bill, according to the summary, “makes sure that hsa funds, which would receive a tax credit up to $5,000, cannot be used for elective abortion services.”

by getting out ahead of the slow, deliberate republican leadership, house and senate conservatives hope to include these ideas in any discussion of aca repeal. but their first step is holding the line on the 2015 budget reconciliation. heritage action has joined them in frustration that the 2015 version of repeal can’t be passed right away. “republicans in congress and president trump promised to fully repeal obamacare over and over again,” the group wrote in a memo this week. “the longer congress delays, the less likely obamacare repeal will ever happen, and the closer we are to the 2018 election.”

and at the heritage-sponsored reporter roundtable tuesday, a few republicans veered into cynicism about their leadership’s strategy. the idea of “repairing” the law, a frame advocated by messaging guru frank luntz, struck them as completely unacceptable.

“if we don’t repeal obamacare, then what was our fight about for the last six years?” asked rep. raúl r. labrador (r-idaho). “if our party was only opposing it because it was proposed by obama and democrats, the base is going to leave the party.”