Freedom Caucus chairman: GOP health plan would raise premiums

Freedom Caucus chairman: GOP health plan would raise premiums
© Greg Nash

Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said Friday he thinks the GOP's ObamaCare repeal-and-replace plan would actually drive insurance premiums up. 

That's because, he said, the plan as it stands still includes protections for people with pre-existing conditions and doesn't remove the ObamaCare provision that requires insurance companies offer essential health benefits.

"If you take healthy people off and you keep all the mandates that are there, premiums will go up," Meadows told reporters Friday. 

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He said in the short run, premiums could come down, but that they'd likely go up in the long term.

"I want to get rid of all the insurance regs and mandates that were in the Affordable Care Act." 

"That's why there's not enough votes, because at this point, the No. 1 priority ... is driving premiums down." 

Freedom Caucus members haven't taken a formal position against the American Health Care Act, but they came out of their meeting Tuesday telling reporters that it would not have enough votes to pass the House.

Meadows's comments come after he met with President Trump, who has been pitching the legislation to skeptical members. While GOP leadership doesn't seem open to making significant changes to the plan, Meadows said Trump is open to anything that could reduce premium costs.

"I'm very confident, based on my conversation with the White House, that there is a willingness to negotiate in good faith things that drive down healthcare premiums," Meadows said. 

The changes Meadows and other Freedom Caucus members are seeking could come in the form of amendments offered to the bill during its markup in the Rules Committee. 

"We're working right now on amendments to be brought up for rules. ... It's too early to say exactly what will be brought up and who will bring them up," he said. 

"We're trying to see what we can come up with and at the same time understanding that negotiations are ongoing." 

The GOP's plan passed the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees this week.