Conservative chairman: I'd back health plan with Medicaid changes

Conservative chairman: I'd back health plan with Medicaid changes
© Greg Nash

The chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee says that if the House adopted two Medicaid amendments he is pushing, he would vote yes on GOP leadership's ObamaCare repeal bill, and if he got one, he would “lean yes.”

Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) is pushing amendments to move up the end of ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion for new enrollees to 2018 instead of 2020, as it is in the current bill. 

The other amendment would institute work requirements for “able-bodied,” childless adults on Medicaid. 

“We are a 'yes' if we get both of them, and we are 'lean yes' if we get one of them,” Walker told reporters. 

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He did not go so far as to vow to oppose the legislation if he gets neither.

Leadership is wary of upsetting the compromises in the legislation, named the American Hleath Care Act. Moving up the end of Medicaid expansion would alienate moderates, particularly in the Senate. Centrist senators already have concerns about ending the Medicaid expansion in 2020, as it stands now. 

Walker said his impression, though, is that there could still be an opening for the amendments in the House Budget Committee or House Rules Committee sessions on the repeal bill.  

But Walker and the broader RSC have concerns about the legislation as it currently stands, not only on Medicaid but on a refundable tax credit for health insurance. Members of the conservative Freedom Caucus has been more vociferously opposed to the bill. 

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) was going to offer the amendments the RSC wanted at an Energy and Commerce Committee markup on Thursday, but ended up withdrawing them before a vote. It was unclear exactly why he withdrew them.