Conservative groups press Senate on ObamaCare repeal

Conservative groups press Senate on ObamaCare repeal
© Greg Nash

Two conservative groups are seeking to influence the Senate’s healthcare bill with a list of recommendations aimed at keeping the bill to the right. 

Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners detailed their requests in a letter sent Monday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi, Schumer press for gun screenings as Trump inches away The malware election: Returning to paper ballots only way to prevent hacking First House Republican backs bill banning assault weapons MORE (R-Ky.), who has convened a working group of senators to examine what ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill can pass the chamber. 

The two conservative groups would like as much of ObamaCare repealed as possible under the strict guidelines of reconciliation, the complex budget maneuver the GOP is using to gut ObamaCare because it only requires a simple majority vote to pass. Republicans have a slim 52-48 majority in the Senate. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The groups want Republicans to get rid of ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion and let states design their own Medicaid programs. The healthcare bill that passed the House would end enhanced funds to states that expanded Medicaid in 2020, even though some conservatives would have preferred to see the extra dollars disappear sooner. 

The future of the Medicaid expansion is a major priority for some centrist senators who hail from states that expanded the program. Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSchumer blasts 'red flag' gun legislation as 'ineffective cop out' McConnell faces pressure to bring Senate back for gun legislation Shaken Portman urges support for 'red flag' laws after Ohio shooting MORE (R-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) have been tasked with figuring out how quickly to wind down the expansion of Medicaid, a program that serves low-income people and the disabled.

In their letter, the conservative groups also ask for a move away from tax credits — which provide financial assistance to help people better afford their premiums — and to provide states with block grants to help those with pre-existing conditions maintain health coverage. 

The two groups panned the idea of a mechanism that would automatically enroll Americans in health coverage as “a giveway to insurers that inflates prices, drives up costs for taxpayer, and keeps Washington at the center of health care.” 

Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners both criticized the American Health Care Act as “ObamaCare 2.0” when the House's bill was first released in early March. But after the addition of an amendment from Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) letting states opt out of core ObamaCare insurance provisions, both groups said the bill was improved.