- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Majorities of the American public disagree with ideas the House GOP is floating to bridge a gap within its own conference and overhaul health care, according to a poll released Tuesday.

Seven out of 10 U.S. adults want to bar insurers from denying sick customers or charging them more nationwide, the Washington Post-ABC News poll found.

Only a quarter want states to decide, as outlined in a plan negotiated by Rep. Tom MacArthur, New Jersey Republican who chairs the centrist Tuesday Group, and members of the archconservative House Freedom Caucus to revive the GOP’s sputtering repeal-and-replace strategy on Obamacare.

Hopes for sending a product to the Senate were revived by the MacArthur plan, which would insurers charge healthy customers less, so long as states set up risk pools to subsidize sicker people priced out of the market.

No state could waive the part of the Affordable Care Act requiring insurers to cover people with preexisting medical conditions, preserving the most popular part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, though analysts say that’s meaningless unless risk pools are adequately funded to backstop sicker consumers who will face higher costs.

The plan would also let states decide whether insurers can opt out of covering maternity care, prescription drugs and Obamacare’s other “essential” benefits, yet three in five adults say the full bundle of services should be covered by insurers in all states.

Only a third want each state to decide, according to the poll, underscoring the uphill battle House leaders face in winning over public opinion and centrists who balked at the GOP’s initial bill in March.

Americans are cool to the GOP’s repeal-and-replace strategy generally, with 61 percent preferring to “keep and try to improve” it, compared to 37 percent who back the Republican push.

Forty-three percent of people want President Trump to work with Democrats to overhaul health care, compared to 26 percent who think he should team with conservative Republicans.

A new poll from WSJ/NBC News out Tuesday also shows a huge drop in confidence for the GOP when it comes to health care.

Fifty percent of Americans say they have little to no confidence in the Republican’s ability to improve things, compared to 34 percent in February, before the party’s last attempt at repealing and replacing Obamacare. This is a 16-point jump in lack of confidence for the party.

But Americans remain mixed on whether they even want the law repealed with 43 percent saying it just needs minor improvements, holding steady from February, while 29 percent say it needs major overhaul, a 7-point drop. Only eight percent are happy with the law as it is and 18 percent feel it should be “totally eliminated.”

Forty percent say the GOP should continue their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, while 37 percent say they should not, and 21 percent don’t have an opinion.

Mr. Trump is pushing the House GOP to cobble together the votes needed to win passage as soon as this week, as Congress returns from a two-week spring break.

“If our healthcare plan is approved, you will see real healthcare and premiums will start tumbling down. ObamaCare is in a death spiral!,” Mr. Trump, who is desperate for a legislative win, tweeted Monday.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan told members they will focus on passing the stopgap spending bill needed to keep the government open beyond Friday, meaning a health vote is unlikely until they are certain they have the votes.

It’s unclear whether the floated compromise can win over centrists who balked the first time around.

“Still haven’t seen draft text. Reports don’t address my serious concerns for #SouthJersey. Still a NO,” Rep. Frank LoBiondo, New Jersey Republican who rejected the first GOP bill, recently told constituents on Twitter.

Rep. Dan Donovan, New York Republican, told NPR the new proposal has not flipped him into the “yes” column.

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