Ryan: GOP putting 'finishing touches' on healthcare bill

Ryan: GOP putting 'finishing touches' on healthcare bill
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanUN contacted Trump administration on ObamaCare repeal: report Shutdown fears spur horse-trading GOP, Trump administration huddle on tax reform MORE (R-Wis.) said Republicans are putting the “finishing touches” on an effort to revive their ObamaCare replacement bill. 

“We’re in the midst of negotiating sort of finishing touches, because our members want to make sure that we lower premiums,” Ryan said Wednesday during a question-and-answer session during a trip to London. 

Talks on the healthcare measure have continued during Congress's two-week recess. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), co-chairman of the centrist Tuesday Group, have said they have spoken to Ryan’s office and Vice President Pence about the next steps. 

MacArthur, while declining to discuss details, said Tuesday he is proposing amendments to the GOP measure that he thinks could help bridge the gap between moderates and conservatives, according to NJ.com. 

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MacArthur said he thinks a vote on the measure could happen as soon as next week. 

That would be a tall task, though, as many other centrist lawmakers have pushed back on the approach advocated by the Freedom Caucus. The Freedom Caucus wants states to be able to get waivers to allow them to repeal ObamaCare protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which conservatives say are driving up premiums. 

Centrists have spoken out against that step when pressed by constituents at town halls across the country during their district work period. 

“We’re very close, and it’s basically, make good on the promises that were made,” Ryan said of the repeal and replacement effort. 

“It’s just going to take us a little time to make good on that,” he said at another point. 

Ryan argued that it would be much easier if a healthcare measure passed before Republicans moved on to tax reform, because the ObamaCare taxes would be repealed. 

“Healthcare is not dead,” Ryan said. “We’re still working on it.”