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By Juliegrace Brufke
Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker said he and the eight members of their steering committee have opted to support the House GOP’s Obamacare repeal after meeting with the administration Friday.
The group, which is the largest Republican caucus on Capitol Hill, was swayed after President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Office of Management And Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney agreed to comply with two of the group’s requests — work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid recipients and Medicaid block grants for states.
“Probably the big win for conservatives for two decades — the president did agree to block options for the states,” Walker told reporters. “So we’re excited about that. It is moving something conservatives have been pushing for years.”
Language has not been finalized concerning whether states would have a choice between per capita caps or a block grants, the South Carolina Republican elaborated. Whether the proposed work requirements will be mandatory is also up in the air.
The RSC endorsement of the current legislation is a huge win for GOP leadership in their quest to get the bill through the House. But House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, who would like to see more major structural changes to the legislation, said he believes there are still around 40 “no” votes.
Prior to the meeting, the RSC challenged a number of provisions in the leadership-backed version of the bill, including the language on tax credits, which they feel creates a new entitlement program, and the timeline on the Medicaid expansion roll back.
House Speaker Paul Ryan initially said the bill was a “binary choice” for Republican lawmakers, but has warmed to the idea of modifications. ‘
Meadows, on the other hand, said he doesn’t believe optional work requirements are an effective strategy for fixing the problem
“Let me ask you a question — is the definition of oxymoron mandatory-optional work requirements” he said. ” A mandatory work requirement is exactly that, it’s mandatory, not optional.”
Meadows believes if states are given the option to choose between per capita caps and block grants, almost all of them will go with block grants.
The HFC is expected to put forward amendments to the legislation next week.