White House presents healthcare changes to Freedom Caucus

April 4 (UPI) — Vice President Mike Pence, along with other White House officials, met with members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus to renegotiate and possibly revive the Republicans’ attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the chairman of the caucus said.

The members of Donald Trump’s administration, including Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, met with the Freedom Caucus members late Monday on Capitol Hill and presented an idea to Freedom Caucus members that would allow states to apply for federal waivers exempting them from some health insurance mandates established under Obamacare.

Under the proposal, states could apply to be exempt from Obamacare’s “essential health benefits” mandate, which requires coverage for certain procedures such as mental health care, substance abuse treatment, prescription drugs and maternity care. States could also apply for exemption from Obamacare’s “community rating” mandate, which blocks insurance companies from making sick people pay higher premiums.

Though the Freedom Caucus officially said no formal draft proposal has been presented to its members, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, sounded optimistic. He said no deal is yet in place.

“There is no deal in principle; there is a solid idea that was offered,” Meadows told reporters after the meeting. “We’re certainly encouraged by the progress we seem to be making,” he added.

House Speaker Paul Ryan in late March canceled the House vote over the Republican’s first effort under Trump to repeal and replace Obamacare, the American Health Care Act, after it became clear the effort would not pass. Ryan described the death of the bill as a “disappointing day.”

Trump strongly supported and courted members of Congress to push for them to support the AHCA. All Democrats, some moderates and several members of the Freedom Caucus opposed the bill.

Many Freedom Caucus members said they did not support the bill because it did not do enough to dismantle Obamacare. After the loss, Trump targeted the Freedom Caucus on Twitter.

“The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!” Trump tweeted.