President Donald Trump appeared to be unclear on certain details of the new healthcare bill he's promoting that Congress could vote on as early as Wednesday, The New York Times reported.
On Sunday, Trump claimed in a post on Twitter the latest push by Republicans to enact new healthcare legislation would have "much lower premiums & deductibles while at the same time taking care of pre-existing conditions!"
"Pre-existing conditions are in the bill," the president also said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "And, I mandate it. I said, has to be."
Critics argue differently. After the first version of changes to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) failed to win support in the House on March 24, lawmakers made alterations to entice the Freedom Caucus. The new legislation endorsed last week would allow states to opt out of several of Obamacare's mandates.
Insurers would be able to offer more limited options than are currently available through the ACA. Under a waiver, states could allow insurers to charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions as long as alternative subsidies were available, the article explained.
Trump also did not say how the new healthcare plan would lead to "much lower premiums." An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office of the last repeal bill claimed premiums would be "15 percent to 20 percent higher under the legislation than under current law," but predicted by 2026 rates would fall to 10 percent below current levels.
Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, who helps tally votes, indicated he thought the new proposal would pass in the House this week. Trump said the new bill had changed substantially since the first failed effort and claimed information about it had been misreported.
"When I watch some of the news reports, which are so unfair, and they say we don't cover pre-existing conditions — we cover it beautifully," the president said.
He also emphasized, "The healthcare bill is going to help my supporters," adding, "Otherwise, I'm not going to sign it. I'm not going to do it."
The amendment's author, Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., maintained, "Nothing in this act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to limit access to health coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions."
But, the amendment also says states can grant waivers that permit "health status" to be used as a criterion for insurers to set their rates.
The American Medical Association opposes the changes and in a letter to Congress said, "Health status underwriting could effectively make coverage completely unaffordable to people with pre-existing conditions."
Supporters of Obamacare are rallying in various cities and states to oppose the proposed legislation in similar fashion as they did for the previous failed bill, particularly in districts represented by moderate Republicans. Their fears were predicated on the idea that a new bill would have to move further right to entice the more conservative members of Congress who did not support the initial attempt to change the nation's healthcare law.
"We were actually more concerned when it didn't come up for a vote last time because that meant there was no room for compromise at the middle," said Valerie Fleisher, organizer of one such group, 412 Resistance, near Pittsburgh. "It would have to move more to the extreme, more to the right, to get the votes that it needed from the Freedom Caucus."
Trump maintained the 100-day benchmark was not a factor in his administration's efforts to show progress on his campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
"We really have a good bill," Trump said on "Face the Nation." "I think they could have voted on Friday. I said, 'Just relax. Don't worry about this phony 100-day thing. Just relax. Take it easy. Take your time. Get the good vote and make it perfect.'"
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