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Paul: New ObamaCare repeal talk 'helpful,' but needs more time

Paul: New ObamaCare repeal talk 'helpful,' but needs more time
© Francis Rivera

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulWhite House open to reforming war powers amid bipartisan push House approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Bipartisan group of senators introduces bill to rein in Biden's war powers MORE (R-Ky.) said Monday that talk of a compromise to win over conservatives to the ObamaCare replacement bill is "helpful" but needs more time.  

Multiple reports surfaced Monday that the White House and conservatives are discussing a compromise to grant Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price more authority to allow states to waive certain ObamaCare regulations that conservatives want repealed. 
 
Paul, leaving a meeting with House Freedom Caucus members in his office, confirmed that such discussions are in the works, and he indicated he had a conversation along those lines on Sunday, when he golfed with President Trump. 
 
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"Those are helpful things, I am hearing that, there was some of that discussion yesterday of giving states more freedom and most conservatives are for that," Paul told reporters. "I think there still is an opportunity for a compromise on this, but I think it still needs more time."
 
President Trump told MSNBC on Monday that he is "serious" about negotiating to find a deal on an ObamaCare replacement bill.
 
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), leaving the meeting with Paul, said that proposal would conflict with the GOP's plan to allow the sale of health insurance across state lines. 
 
"Left it up to the states — well, it's a little bit at odds with our notion to let people buy health insurance across state lines. States with the most regulations would drive up the price and people would go to the states with the least regulations." 
 
Lawmakers have been looking for a way to revive the ObamaCare replacement legislation that failed to win enough support last month, though deep divisions remain. 
 
Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) met at the White House Monday with Vice President Pence and other centrist lawmakers to discuss reviving the bill.
 
Collins said changes discussed include allowing states to apply for waivers to get rid of ObamaCare's essential health benefits. Another change would better direct funds in the bill's stability fund to make sure they are lowering premiums. 
 
The Freedom Caucus will discuss the ideas with Pence Monday night.
 
A GOP source said Monday that the House leadership team was monitoring the health negotiations from afar, calling the talks a “member-driven process” that at this stage are not being led by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan to host fundraiser for Cheney amid GOP tensions Boehner book jacket teases slams against Cruz, Trump CPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be MORE (R-Wis.) or his top lieutenants.
 
The ObamaCare regulations that the Freedom Caucus is looking to repeal are the essential health benefits, which mandate what health services an insurance plan must cover, and "community rating," which prevents insurers from charging sick people higher premiums.
 
Conservatives argue that repealing those regulations is necessary to drive down premiums. There is doubt, though, whether repealing them could pass muster under Senate rules governing the fast-track process to avoid a Democratic filibuster.
 
Conservatives objected to the bill previously for failing to repeal these regulations, but a possible compromise could be to allow Price to give states the ability to waive the regulations on their own.
 
Separately, Paul on Monday also pitched a separate idea to keep ObamaCare subsidies in place while reducing their amount.
 
Scott Wong and Jessie Hellmann contributed.