April 11, 2017
What recess? Republicans aren't getting much of a break from politics this week, thanks to a homegrown debate over health care. Back in their districts, there's no escaping the drama surrounding the Obamacare repeal as new ads play repeatedly on local televisions. For two weeks, competing groups are trying to sway the pesky middle of the GOP -- the moderates -- on an emerging plan that the rest of the party is starting to get behind.
As Vice President Mike Pence told a group of FRC supporters Friday:
"[W]hen we begin the end of Obamacare, we will also defund Planned Parenthood once and for all. I'm happy to report to you that discussions are ongoing. We were hoping that Congress would take that important first step to end the nightmare of Obamacare a few weeks back, but they weren't quite ready. But with your help, they'll get there. And we have an opportunity, beginning with this first legislation, to literally remove the penalties of Obamacare, create and expand health savings accounts, and empower states to reform Medicaid in ways that have never even been possible since the very beginning of that program. Now there will be more work to do after we get this done bill, but I urge all of you, in the days ahead, let your voice be heard."
Club for Growth is certainly letting theirs be heard. With a new campaign in the districts of 10 more liberal Republicans, they hope to push members to embrace the House Freedom Caucus's more conservative solution. Specifically, Rep. Mark Meadows's (R-N.C.) group is leaning on the GOP to include a waiver on a laundry list of Obamacare insurance mandates. So far, it's one of the best ways to slash the price tag for the law's substitute. The Obamacare regulations mandating what "essential benefits" are covered and how much is charged have driven up premiums. Repealing some of those mandates will allow insurers more flexibility to offer a broader array of plans.
As most experts will tell you, these mandates are part of what sank Obamacare, healthy people are paying for insurance they may not need or want, and sick policy holders have still seen their premiums rise. Conservatives rightly demand a repeal of the "individual mandate," which threatened fines for those who do not want to purchase insurance. But by doing so, many will refuse to buy coverage leading to an imbalance in which fewer healthy people are paying into a system overrun by sick policyholders. That problem needs to be addressed. Meadows says, "We're very close [to a deal]. The biggest thing for all of us is we want to make sure we don't just have repeal, but we have a replacement that drives down insurance premiums," he said. "It's our encouragement to have a vote as soon as we possibly can, even perhaps before we return back to D.C. in 13 days."
Whether health care premiums are lowered is the acid test of whether or not the repeal of Obamacare is successful. As the Club for Growth argues in a new ad, if members back the proposed change, it would almost certainly lower costs. "Our message in this ad is this," said Club President David McIntosh, "Come on board, keep the promise that you and your party made to finally repeal Obamacare and lower health-care insurance costs for Americans across the board." As Congress gets closer to a deal, FRC is pressing for the reworked scheme to not only save dollars, but lives. We have the vice president's assurance that the proposal will zero out Planned Parenthood funding and House leaders' word that it will block abortion-on-demand in the health savings accounts. You can make it easier for them to keep those promises by calling and emailing your support for pro-life protections! Click here to remind members that abortion isn't health care.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.