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 CollinsActress Marcia Gay Harden urges Congress to boost Alzheimer's funding 13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families Trump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril MORE (R-Maine), President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWarren on family separation policy: Trump is ‘taking America to a dark and ugly place’ Senate GOP tries to defuse Trump border crisis Schumer rejects GOP proposal to address border crisis 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"We haven't repealed ObamaCare, we haven't cut taxes yet, and we haven't started construction on the border security wall like we told the voters.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 JordanRepublicans tear into IG finding on Clinton probe Republican wants to know why Rosenstein delayed release of FBI agent texts Live coverage: Justice IG testifies before House on report criticizing FBI 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 Alexander13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families IBM-led coalition pushes senators for action on better tech skills training Dems seek to leverage ObamaCare fight for midterms MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayIBM-led coalition pushes senators for action on better tech skills training Members of Congress demand new federal gender pay audit Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Health chief grilled on Trump drug pricing plan, ObamaCare case 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 NelsonFlorida lawmakers blocked from entering facility holding migrant children Transportation Department watchdog to examine airplane cabin evacuation standards Hillicon Valley: Supreme Court takes up Apple case | Senate votes to block ZTE deal | Officials testify on Clinton probe report | Russia's threat to undersea cables | Trump tells Pentagon to create 'space force' | FCC begins T-Mobile, Sprint deal review 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 MeadowsConservatives express concern over House GOP immigration bill Trump vows to stand with House GOP '1,000 percent' on immigration North Carolina governor recalls National Guard troops from border over family separation 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."