Conservative chairman in talks about ObamaCare stabilization deal

Conservative chairman in talks about ObamaCare stabilization deal

Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) are in talks for a bill that would stabilize ObamaCare markets.

The measure would fund key ObamaCare payments known as cost-sharing reductions, possibly in exchange for expanded flexibility favored by conservatives for states to waive ObamaCare regulations through broadening an existing provision known as 1332 waivers. 

The talks were first reported by Axios

A Meadows aide confirmed the discussions but said it has not been discussed by the Freedom Caucus.

In a statement, MacArthur said he wants to stabilize ObamaCare markets while lowering premiums.

"I came to Congress to fix the tough problems facing our country, not walk away," MacArthur said. "This is why I’ve been working on a plan that will lower the cost of premiums, while stabilizing the individual marketplace, so that we can provide Americans with the high quality and affordable health care they deserve.”

Still, the Freedom Caucus is not giving up on ObamaCare repeal and is at the same time pushing to vote on a repeal-only bill that passed in 2015. 

The negotiations are an indication that Meadows could be open to a measure helping to stabilize ObamaCare.  

The Senate Health Committee is also discussing a stabilization bill that is likely to include the cost-sharing reductions as well as increased flexibility around the 1332 waivers. 

The committee will be holding hearings on the issue when Congress returns in September and is aiming to have a bill by later that month.  

Insurers are looking for certainty that the cost-sharing reductions, which President Trump has threatened to cancel, will continue. Many are raising premiums for next year because of the uncertainty, and they need to file their rates by next month.

The chairman of the other main conservative group in the House, Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) of the Republican Study Committee, denounced the approach. "Stabilize = Bailout. We promised to dismantle Obamacare, not to prop it up and ask the American people to pay more," he tweeted about the Meadows and MacArthur discussions.

Correction: An attribution in this story was corrected on Aug. 14.