House conservatives urge Senate to keep ideas that lower premiums

Senate Republicans risk losing support from House conservatives if they don’t include one of two ideas designed to lower premiums in their Obamacare repeal bill, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows told reporters Thursday.

Meadows said conservatives strongly support a proposal from Sen. Ted Cruz to allow insurers to sell plans that don’t comply with Obamacare requirements.

If that amendment or a proposal to let states waive key Obamacare consumer protections isn’t in the Senate bill, or another proposal with the same aim, “I think it would lose conservative support in the House,” Meadows said. The state waivers were part of a compromise the Freedom Caucus brokered with moderate Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) to help revive the House’s repeal bill.

“I’m willing to look at any option that drives down premiums,” Meadows said. “If there’s another idea beyond the MacArthur amendment, beyond the Cruz consumer choice amendments that drive down premiums, I’m all ears. I’m not aware of any that are out there.”

Senate Republicans did not include the MacArthur amendment in their first draft bill, but states could pursue a separate waiver under which insurers would not have to cover so-called “essential health benefits.” Conservatives are pushing other ideas to lower individual market premiums. Conservatives also support an idea to let people use health savings account funds to pay for premiums.

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