Freedom Caucus chair opposes ObamaCare funding pushed by GOP senator

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House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said Wednesday that he opposes ObamaCare funding known as “reinsurance” that was part of a commitment given to Sen. Susan Collins(R-Maine) to help gain her vote for tax reform.

“That’s a totally different thing because that actually puts more money into a failing system where the money will not actually lower premiums and reduce costs in a substantial way,” Meadows told The Hill. “I think that’s a bigger problem.”

Meadows’s objections, and those among House Republicans more broadly, could be an obstacle to the deal that Collins worked out on Tuesday.

Collins said that President Trump had agreed to support the reinsurance funding, as well as another bill from Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), to help assuage her concerns about repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate in the tax bill.

Senators said those two ObamaCare bills could be added to a must-pass government funding bill after the tax bill passes the Senate. But Meadows’s objections are an obstacle in that situation.

Reinsurance is government funding that helps pay for the cost of sick enrollees, with the intention of bringing down premiums. But conservatives oppose it as simply throwing more money at the health-care law.

Meadows was more open to the Alexander-Murray bill, but said that he wanted certain concessions for Republicans on that before adding it to a short-term government funding bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR).

“The Alexander-Murray bill, the problem with it is that it was more give on Sen. Alexander’s part than Sen. Murray’s part, so suggesting that Sen. Murray would perhaps be a little bit more engaging in the negotiation, I would certainly be willing to [work with them],” Meadows said.

The Alexander-Murray bill funds key payments to insurers for two years in exchange for more flexibility for states. But conservatives say the flexibility in the bill currently is not substantial.

Meadows said Wednesday he is willing to work on the issue.

“I think with the CR really at this point, I’ve been one that’s been willing to work with our Senate colleagues on a CR,” he said.

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