MacArthur: Agreement reached with House Freedom Caucus chair on health plan

Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) says he has reached an agreement with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, on the terms for a bill aimed at stabilizing ObamaCare markets.

MacArthur, who is more centrist than Meadows and previously worked with him on a deal for ObamaCare repeal legislation, says he has reached agreement with Meadows on the outline of a proposal, though some details need to be worked out.

This proposal is far different from their repeal efforts, focusing on the stabilization of markets while giving states more flexibility to repeal ObamaCare regulations.


MacArthur told The Hill that he and Meadows are discussing the idea with senators as well.

“Mark and I have an agreed-upon terms sheet,” MacArthur said. “It’s more than just a concept. We have specific language that we’ve sent to a number of senators.”

MacArthur said the proposal has three main pillars: funding key ObamaCare payments known as cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), giving states more flexibility on ObamaCare regulations by expanding an existing waiver program known as 1332 waivers and fighting high drug costs.

He said he still needs to work with Meadows on the details concerning changes to the state waivers.

MacArthur said senators have been open to his ideas, but are holding back on endorsing them given that Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Health Committee, is starting his own hearings this week on ObamaCare stabilization.

But Alexander’s effort shares common traits, including funding the CSRs and widening the 1332 waivers. Alexander is also in negotiations with Democrats to try to make his effort bipartisan.

MacArthur, however, wants to fund the CSRs to insurers for three years, while Alexander has proposed one year.

“What I’ve heard is Lamar is talking about CSRs for one year,” he said. “That’s not going to stabilize the markets and so I go out longer than that.”

One new point in MacArthur and Meadows’s effort is addressing drug costs — a whole new controversial area. MacArthur declined to give details of his proposal in that area, however.

“I’m doing something to try to bring the cost of drugs down,” he said.

If he cannot get senators to commit to the plan this week, he said he might go public with the details of the plan to build support.

The effort comes as many Republicans are pivoting to look at fixing ObamaCare rather than repealing it.

The Senate is largely taking the lead on those efforts.

The Freedom Caucus, though, is also pushing for a vote on a repeal-only measure that passed in 2015, though that faces very long odds.

MacArthur said he also ran his proposal by House GOP leadership before talking to Meadows, as he did during the repeal debate, which eventually led to a breakthrough.

It’s the “same way I did the last amendment,” MacArthur said.