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GOP to give Obamacare repeal another shot next week

A new bill could be out as early as the weekend as President Donald Trump chases a win before his 100-day mark.

Susan Morse, Associate Editor

The Republicans have a new plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, according to reports.

The new bill is expected to be out by the weekend and to get a vote by the mid-week in time for the president's first 100 days, according to Politico. Sources told Politico they believe they are close to having the votes necessary to pass the bill.

House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the previous bill, the American Health Care Act, when it became clear there were not enough votes for it to pass because of opposition from members of the conservative Freedom Caucus. 

On April 13, Republican Representatives Tom MacArthur, a Republican from New Jersey, and Mark Meadows, who heads the Freedom Caucus seemed to come to a compromise on an amendment that gives states more flexibility while preserving consumer protections to get and retain health insurance.

The MacArthur Amendment to the American Health Care Act would reinstate essential health benefits as the federal standard, but would allow states to apply for a waiver for these essential health benefits as a way to reduce premium costs.

State waivers could also be applied for community rating rules that prevent insurers from varying premiums within a geographic area, except for factors of gender, health status and age. The later would have the exception of the 5:1 age ratio for older Americans.

Under the amendment, health status is also up for an exception in states that establish a high-risk pool or are participating in a federal high-risk pool.

It would prohibit denial of coverage due to preexisting medical conditions, guarantee coverage and renewal of coverage, and allow dependents to stay on their parents' plans up until the age of 26 years old.

In mid-April, House Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled an amendment to the American Health Care Act that would create a federal risk sharing program for insurers. 

Before the break, a House Rules Committee approved a mark-up of the amendment. 

Ryan gave no cost to the amendment sponsored by conservative Reps. Gary Palmer of Alabama and David Schweikert of Arizona. Palmer said the Palmer-Schweikert proposal is modeled after what is being done in Maine. The risk-sharing program would be a federal program for three years and then turned over to the states, Palmer said.

In 2011, Maine overhauled its system, creating what is called an invisible high-risk pool for individuals with pre-existing conditions. The invisible high-risk pool was made of up individuals who had certain conditions that would have normally placed them in a regular high-risk pool.

However, these individuals did not know they were in the invisible high-risk pool and were not charged higher premiums. The invisible high-risk pool operated behind the scenes as the Maine Guaranteed Access Reinsurance Association. 

Twitter: @SusanJMorse

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