After brokering a deal on health care in the House, Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows is working on a grand bargain in the Senate.
Meadows (R-NC) told HuffPost that he has been working with the Senate to reflect the more conservative elements that the Freedom Caucus added to the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which passed through the House last week.
The AHCA passed after Meadows brokered a deal with Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), the co-chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group, to add an amendment that would allow states to waive Obamacare regulations such as community regulations and essential health benefits.
Sources close to the Freedom Caucus confirmed on Monday that Meadows met with the Senate steering committee on health care over the past month to discuss the Senate’s overhaul package.
“He believes there’s a grand compromise to be made if negotiating partners are willing to come to the table,” the source said of Meadows.
Freedom Caucus sources said that Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), two conservative members of the upper chamber, have been “heavily involved” in meetings between the moderate and the conservative wings of the Senate. Sens. Cruz, Lee, and Rand Paul (R-KY) came out with the Freedom Caucus in opposition to the original version of the AHCA for not repealing enough of Obamacare.
Meadows also met with Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Tom Cotton (R-AR) about the AHCA.
Meadows told HuffPost that “The fundamental question is going to come down to the tax credit subsidy in place, or do they drop back to an Obamacare modified subsidy.”
Conservatives want to retain the AHCA’s flat, age-based, tax credits; however, Thune advocated for keeping Obamacare’s income-based subsidies. Meadows has “had discussions” with Thune about AHCA’s tax credit scheme.
Meadows remains at the center of the healthcare debate after successfully negotiating a deal with Rep. MacArthur that led to the bill’s passage in the House. The Freedom Caucus chair stood behind President Donald Trump, next to Speaker Paul Ryan and the chairmen of the House committees that drafted the AHCA, during the celebration at the White House following the bill’s passage in the House.