U.S. Rep. Womack ‘lean yes’ on new GOP healthcare measure, doesn’t see bipartisan compromise

by Roby Brock (roby@talkbusiness.net) 242 views 

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, says he ‘leans yes’ on the current healthcare measure being debated among Republican caucuses in Congress. Womack said that the MacArthur amendment, brought forward as a compromise among GOP members, could eliminate “gaming” of the insurance system and push more flexibility to states.

“There’s some language in there that deals with giving the guarantee that if you don’t have a disruption in coverage, a lapse in coverage, guarantees in the Obamacare package are still there for you. But [there are] other provisions that states have to have high-risk pools, that they have to be able to prove that insurance rates are going to go down and that there will be better access,” Womack said. “In other words, in the language of the MacArthur amendment, there has to be guarantees by the states who would seek this waiver opportunity to ensure that those high-risk pools, those high-risk candidates on insurance coverage can be accommodated by the states. That helps us keep a promise that we’re going to protect pre-existing conditions, but at the same time, gives the states some of that leeway.”

The MacArthur amendment – negotiated in part by moderate Tuesday Group leader Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., and conservative Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. – would allow states to seek waivers to weaken several key Obamacare insurance reforms that protect those with pre-existing conditions, including the benefits insurers must cover in their policies and the ban on allowing carriers to charge more based on a person’s health background. By the end of the week, there had been no vote scheduled or taken on the proposal, so it’s possibility as a breakthrough from the current impasse on healthcare is uncertain.

“How practically it works, I think is to be determined. But at least we’re at a position right now where we can get both sides – the moderates and the really hardcore conservatives – to come to agreement that maybe the time is rapidly approaching that we can have a bill, that we can get the votes on the floor,” added Womack, who was a guest on this week’s TV edition of Talk Business & Politics.

When asked why moderate Republicans don’t work with moderate Democrats to form a larger working coalition for passing legislation, Womack deferred to GOP leadership.

“That’s a leadership question, I’m not engaged at the leadership level in determining whether or not we would be in a position to go across the aisle and find the kind of support we’re looking for,” he said.

“I think there’s been evidence already in this Congress that we’re not going to get a lot of support for anything but just making tweaks to Obamacare so I think that’s, if I were rendering an opinion on it, I’d say that’d be pure fantasy right now,” said Womack. “If you’re going to get Democrat support for that, in the numbers that we’re talking about, it probably waters down the bill where you lose a lot of Republican support, so I’m not sure that that’s a productive exercise.”

Watch Cong. Womack’s full interview in the video below.

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