House conservatives won't back spending bill with ObamaCare payments

House conservatives won't back spending bill with ObamaCare payments
© Greg Nash

House conservatives said they won't support a short-term spending bill to fund the government if it contains provisions to "bail out" insurance companies. 

A deal between moderate GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight 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 Study: ObamaCare bills backed by Collins would lower premiums Right scrambles GOP budget strategy MORE (R-Maine), President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) would likely attach two bipartisan measures to stabilize ObamaCare's insurance markets to the spending bill in exchange for her vote on tax reform. 

But conservatives say that wouldn't pass the House. 

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"We haven't repealed ObamaCare, we haven't cut taxes yet, and we haven't started construction on the border security wall like we told the voters. But before we get any of that stuff done we're going to bail out insurance companies in the spending bill?" said Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanOvernight 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 Overnight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018 House conservatives, Ryan inch closer toward spending deal MORE (R-Ohio), the former chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. 

"For me, I think probably largely for many of our members, that doesn't make sense. I wouldn't be supportive of that." 

One of the measures, sponsored by Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Senate approves motion to go to tax conference House conservatives, Ryan inch closer toward spending deal MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats turn on Al Franken VA slashes program that helps homeless veterans obtain housing: report The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Wash.), would fund key ObamaCare insurer payments, called cost sharing reductions (CSR), for two years.

These payments reimburse insurers for giving discounted deductibles and copays to low-income patients but have been criticized by conservatives as a bailout of insurance companies. 

The other bill, sponsored by Collins and Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonOvernight Health Care: Ryan's office warns he wasn't part of ObamaCare deal | House conservatives push for mandate repeal in final tax bill | Dem wants probe into CVS-Aetna merger Ryan's office warning he wasn't part of deal on ObamaCare: source Overnight Health Care: Funding bill could provide help for children's health program | Questions for CVS-Aetna deal | Collins doubles funding ask for ObamaCare bill MORE (D-Fla.), would fund “reinsurance,” government funding to help pay for the costs of sick enrollees and bring down premium prices. 

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTrump rips Dems a day ahead of key White House meeting 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 Overnight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018 MORE (R-N.C.) said he likely would not support a spending bill that contains the Alexander-Murray language unless it also includes more concessions from Democrats. And he definitely wouldn't support a spending bill that appropriates money for the reinsurance. 

"I don't see supporting a CR with Alexander-Murray attached to it," Meadows said. 

"I've been one willing to look at CSR payments as part of a transition but not with what Sen. Collins, who I respect — she's talking about reinsurance. That's actually adding more money to a failing system. It just doesn't work, and I think it would have a very high hurdle here in the House to pass." 

Collins, a key Senate vote on the tax bill, believes that the repeal of ObamaCare's individual mandate, included in the Senate tax bill, would raise premiums.

On Thursday, she said she had worked out a deal with Trump and McConnell to pass the two bipartisan bills in an effort to mitigate the effects of repealing the mandate, saying it would likely be added to the short-term spending bill. 

FreedomWorks, an influential conservative advocacy group, said it's "bad process" to attach Alexander-Murray to any spending bill. 

"We oppose Alexander-Murray and will urge members of the Senate and House to vote against it should it reach the floor," said Jason Pye, vice president of legislative affairs for the group. 

"This is a bailout for health insurance companies that participate on the ObamaCare exchanges."

A spokesperson for the conservative Republican Study Committee said it would have to see concrete details before making a decision. 

"The chairman has been on the record before that part of any deal on ObamaCare must include a permanent repeal of some sort," said Alexei Woltornist. 

"Conservatives are keeping in mind that the American people elected Republicans to repeal Obamacare, not bail it out."