WASHINGTON, April 5 Prospects faded on Wednesday
for quick Obamacare repeal and replacement legislation in the
U.S. Congress as a renewed effort by the White House could not
end infighting by Republican lawmakers over healthcare policy.
One outside conservative group said progress on a healthcare
bill had "stalled" in talks between Republican conservatives and
moderates, who had hoped to patch up differences this week.
Heritage Action Chief Executive Mike Needham told reporters
his group was even looking at ways to target House moderates
known as the Tuesday Group, with attack ads in their districts
and other tactics.
Republicans have been railing against President Barack
Obama's Affordable Care Act since its enactment in 2010. On
Tuesday, some Republican lawmakers expressed hope the Trump
White House would unveil a healthcare bill, and some
conservatives said a vote by the full House was possible this
The legislation has not yet emerged, despite intensive talks
with Republican lawmakers led by Vice President Mike Pence. A
House Republican leadership aide said on Wednesday that plans
remained on track for the divided chamber to begin a more than
two-week recess by mid-afternoon on Thursday.
Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the hard-right
House Freedom Caucus, late on Tuesday said, "There’s a concern
on my part that if we’re making real progress, that going home
sends the wrong message."
Without a breakthrough by week's end, it will be the second
time in about two weeks that the White House and House
Republicans have fallen short on healthcare.
Still, the negotiations will allow lawmakers to return to
their home districts and tell voters they are trying to deliver
on a campaign promise that helped them win election.
In an interview with Axios and NBC television, House
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Republicans will produce a
healthcare bill, but did not provide a timetable.
Late on Tuesday, following a long, closed-door meeting with
House Republicans, Pence told reporters there was "good talk,
good progress" toward a bill. He did not elaborate.
Republican lawmakers have described the current effort as
focusing on maintaining Obamacare's list of essential health
benefits, such as mental health coverage and maternity care. But
states could apply for waivers if they demonstrated that would
improve coverage and reduce costs.
There were discussions of a new provision to create a
"backstop" so people with chronic illnesses in high-risk
insurance pools do not see their premiums spike if major
portions of Obamacare are repealed.
(Reporting By Yasmeen Abutaleb and David Morgan, Writing By
Richard Cowan; Editing by David Gregorio)