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Republicans Add New Amendment to Obamacare Repeal Plan

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Since March, when the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was pulled from the floor before a vote could take place, Republicans have been trying to find a way to make the bill – which currently has an approval rating of 17 percent – more attractive.

On Tuesday, Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) introduced a new amendment to the bill that would let states waive certain Obamacare requirements such as the essential benefits mandate – which requires insurers to cover services including mental health and maternity care – and restrictions on premiums for people with pre-existing conditions. To apply for these waivers, states would need to have a high-risk pool as an alternative for those unable to afford their premiums. Insurers would then be allowed to charge those with pre-existing conditions a higher premium should they have a lapse in their coverage.

Should states be allowed to opt-out of these Obamacare mandates, more Americans will likely lose their health care coverage. Projections for the original iteration of the AHCA suggest that 24 million Americans would be left uninsured.

The amendment also includes language that would protect members of Congress and their staffers, all of whom are required to buy their insurance from the individual marketplace, should any Obamacare protections be removed.

According to Sarah Kliff from Vox, Rep. MacArthur has since released a statement saying they are working to fix the exemption — with Alison Kodjak, a health policy reporter at NPR, adding that as per a congressional aide, the fix won’t come until after the bill passes.

The vote, which was supposed to be held on March 24, was canceled after House Republicans realized they did not have the number of votes needed to pass the AHCA, despite having a party majority. On Wednesday, the House Freedom Caucus, a group of approximately 30 conservative lawmakers blamed by the White House and GOP for the bill’s failure, announced they now support the AHCA, given its new amendment.

“Due to improvements to the AHCA and the addition of Rep. Tom MacArthur’s proposed amendment, the House Freedom Caucus has taken an official position in support of the current proposal,” the Caucus wrote in a statement.

With the Freedom Caucus’s backing, the bill is close to having the 216 votes it needs to pass the House. So far, no date has been set for a new vote.

What’s your take? Do you support the American Health Care Act?

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: April 26, 2017
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