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The new deal is being brokered by centrist Republican Tom MacArthur (above; N.J.) and hard-right Freedom Caucus head Mark Meadows (N.C.). (Photo: Congressman Tom MacArthur)

TrumpCare 3.0: GOP's Zombie Healthcare Plan Keeps Getting Worse

Under reported 'compromise,' states could gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions

Deirdre Fulton

It's "red alert" time on healthcare, according to one observer, amid reports that some congressional Republicans think they have a deal—and it's even worse than the last one (which was itself crueler than its predecessor).

The Huffington Post reported Wednesday:

The deal, brokered between House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Tuesday Group co-chairman Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), would allow states to get waivers eliminating the so-called community rating provision—the rule that prohibits insurers from charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions. In order to obtain the waiver, states would have to participate in a federal high-risk pool or establish their own, and satisfy some other conditions.

In exchange for that conservative concession, the amendment would reinstate the Essential Health Benefits that were already taken out of the bill—though, again, states could waive those provisions as well if they were able to show that doing so would lower premiums, increase the number of people insured, or "advance another benefit to the public interest in the state."

The plan "effectively allows states to eliminate the [Affordable Care Act, or ACA]'s guarantee of access to insurance at a reasonable price for people with pre-existing conditions, in the interest of lowering premiums for people who are healthy," Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, told the publication upon seeing a description of the proposal. "It seems to tilt heavily towards what the Freedom Caucus has been looking for."

HuffPo reporters Matt Fuller and Jonathan Cohn note that such provisions could alienate moderate Republicans; the caucus will reportedly discuss the amendment (Politico has a copy here) on a conference call this Saturday.

But there's political pressure coming from another direction, too, which could influence these talks.

CNN reported Wednesday that some members of the Trump administration are hoping for a win on healthcare before the president reaches his 100-day milestone.

Of the Meadows-MacArthur deal, a senior GOP aide told CNN: "Longshot at best. But the White House clearly wants it."

Indeed, President Donald Trump himself told Wisconsin's WTMJ on Tuesday, "We are going to have a big win soon, because we are going to have healthcare and that's gonna happen. And there was no lose with healthcare, this is just a constant negotiation and the plan is getting better and better all the time."

On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence added to CNN's Dana Bash, "I'm very confident that in the days ahead, we're going to see the Congress come together and we're going to take that important first step to repeal and replace Obamacare with the kind of healthcare plan President Trump has envisioned."

In turn, the resistance movement is urging its members to "flood the phones" and use the remaining days of the congressional recess to pressure lawmakers to reject any TrumpCare revision that would cause coverage losses or premium increases for those with pre-existing conditions—which at least one analysis shows the new deal would clearly do.

The Center for American Progress said Thursday that under the compromise plan, premiums could spike a whopping $71,000 for people with lung cancer, $28,000 for breast cancer patients, and $5,500 for those with diabetes.

And don't forget, Greg Sargent wrote Thursday for the Washington Post, "the new GOP plan would keep in place the old plan's phase-out of the Medicaid expansion, which would itself result in 14 million fewer people on Medicaid, according to the Congressional Budget Office."

"You'd think that this, plus the gutting of protections for pre-existing conditions, would render the new plan toxic for GOP moderates who, in rejecting the old plan, have confirmed that they are not willing to embrace a massively regressive plan that would push tens of millions of poor and sick people off coverage while delivering an enormous tax cut to the rich," he wrote. "Of course, the need to give Trump a fake achievement to tout is also an urgent matter, so who knows what they'll do."


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