Week ahead: Congress returns from recess to work on healthcare, spending bill

Week ahead: Congress returns from recess to work on healthcare, spending bill
© Getty

House Republicans will hold a conference call for all of their members Saturday following a two-week Easter recess, which will likely focus on a new healthcare compromise and the spending bill.

While Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees House Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids MORE (R-Wis.) said this week that Republicans are putting the "finishing touches" on the repeal bill, it's not clear that a new compromise that surfaced this week will be able to move votes.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), co-chairman of the centrist Tuesday Group, say they are nearing a deal on changes to the bill. But GOP aides and some lawmakers seem doubtful.

The changes being discussed would allow states to apply for waivers to a core ObamaCare provision, known as community rating, that stops insurance companies from raising premiums based on individuals' health. States could get the waivers as long as they also offered high-risk pool coverage.

ADVERTISEMENT
While the changes could win over some conservatives, aides expressed doubts that it would win over moderates.

The new amendment would also not change deep Medicaid cuts and coverage losses that moderates have objected to.

Meanwhile, Congress also has to pass a spending bill by April 28 to avoid a government shutdown.

Democrats are complicating the effort by demanding that ObamaCare insurer payments be wrapped into the spending package.

The demand is in response to a threat from President Trump that he would withhold the payments until Democrats work with him on healthcare reform.

Republicans find themselves in a tricky position. The House GOP sued Obama's executive branch over the payments, arguing they are unconstitutional.

But withholding the payments could throw the insurance markets into chaos and Republicans could take the blame.

Insurers have threatened to raise premium costs or drop out of the individual market all together if they don't receive the payments, which compensate them for offering discounted deductibles to low-income customers.

Insurance executives met with a top Trump administration health official on Tuesday to press for the payments, but did not receive any commitments.

Insurers need file their rates and plans by June. 

 

This week:

Tuesday

The House and Senate will meet after a two-week recess.

Wednesday

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will meet to advance the nomination of Scott Gottlieb to serve as FDA Commissioner.