Conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus voted among themselves Monday night to band together and support only an Obamacare repeal that is at least as aggressive as a bill the House and Senate passed in 2015, putting GOP leaders in a bind with their conference and perhaps even threatening the possibility of passing a repeal.
The group of roughly 35 to 40 House conservatives voted to take this official position ― meaning it received the support of at least 80 percent of the members and is therefore supposed to be the position of all lawmakers in the group ― amid some GOP consternation that Republicans ought to focus more on repairing the law rather than repealing it, as well as amid heavy voter pressure in many districts to leave the law intact.
“If it’s less than the 2015 [bill], we will oppose it,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told a small group of reporters Monday night.
Meadows added that the Freedom Caucus would encourage replacing Obamacare at the same time Congress repeals it but that if GOP leaders put the same 2015 reconciliation bill gutting major parts of Obamacare on the floor, conservatives in the group would support it.
The 2015 repeal bill removed the Medicaid expansion that is popular in many red states ― including among many Republican governors ― and repealed the individual and employer mandates. The bill also removed the law’s subsidies and the taxes that helped to pay for them. In short, it would disassemble Obamacare.
On the one hand, this makes it more likely that the ACA survives largely unscathed, because unless Republicans are willing to blow up the filibuster repeal of the Medicaid expansion is DOA in the Senate, and it won’t be easy to pass in the House either. On the other hand, it means that if repeal does pass it will probably be a complete catastrophe.
One thing to add is that for all the credit John Roberts gets for not endorsing most of the neoconfederate claims against the ACA, the Medicaid expansion would almost certainly be safe had he not ineptly re-written it based on a transparently incoherent theory. The Freedom (sic) Caucus might inadvertently save it, but if most red states had taken the expansion it would be almost completely safe.