(Bloomberg) — House lawmakers hope Tuesday to release a new Trump administration-backed version of the American Health Care Act bill they had to abandon last month in an embarrassing setback to their pledge to repeal Obamacare.
“We’re at that conceptual stage right now,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Tuesday morning. “We don’t have bill text or an agreement yet.” GOP leaders barely mentioned health care in the private conference meeting Tuesday morning and offered few details.
Rep. Mark Walker, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said Tuesday that the Energy and Commerce Committee is “putting it together and language should be ready this evening.”
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Late Monday, Vice President Mike Pence and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus met with House conservatives to lay out the details of the plan. One lawmaker said it could allow states to charge higher rates to sick people. President Donald Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, was also in the meeting.
House GOP leaders said earlier that no health care vote is planned, but several lawmakers, including a close ally of Trump’s, said they think a vote could still occur this week.
“The administration is saying it would like it this week,” Republican Rep. Chris Collins of New York said Tuesday morning. Collins and several Republican moderates went to the White House Monday to discuss the plan.
Republicans have little space on the calendar to hold a new vote this month. They are scheduled to begin a two-week recess on Friday, and when they return they will have five days to pass a spending measure to keep the government funded after April 28.
Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, which helped block the last health care bill, said Monday that he hadn’t seen the administration’s new proposal in writing.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll get the legislative text within the next 24 hours,” said North Carolina’s Meadows, who added that the new talk of a deal is being driven by the White House. “There’s no deal in principle.”
The details are still emerging, but the White House and Republicans are discussing a plan that would allow states to apply for waivers on some Affordable Care Act requirements, while still preserving its ban on excluding coverage of those with pre-existing conditions. States would have to show that their waiver “would improve coverage and reduce costs,” Collins said.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez on Tuesday called the Republican leadership “heartless” in how they are dealing with a law that extended health care to 24 million people.