North Carolina Congressman Patrick McHenry says Republican leaders are working to revise their party's health care plan to win approval. So far, moderates and conservatives are far apart. McHenry is playing a key role in trying to bridge their differences.
McHenry represents the 10th Congressional district, which lies west of Charlotte and includes Hickory. He's also the chief deputy majority whip in the House. That means part of his job is to round up votes for the Republican health care plan.
That's not going so well right now, but McHenry said it’s nothing unusual.
“This is the push and pull of legislating,” McHenry said on WFAE’s “Charlotte Talks” Monday. “When you have 237 Republicans in the House and the Democrats have declared that they will not participate in the negotiations on this, we have to figure out how we get a majority vote of the institution with Republicans.”
Moderate Republicans think the bill changes too much too fast. Some conservatives think the draft plan moves too slowly, he said.
One of the chief critics is U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, who represents western North Carolina's 11th District, right next door to McHenry's district. He has called the bill "Obamacare Lite." Meadows is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and spoke on MSNBC last week.
"It's our position in the House Freedom Caucus that this plan, the current plan, doesn't go far enough," Meadows said. "So we are working on amendments as we speak that to hopefully make it better.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said over the weekend that the plan could be changed to give seniors more help in buying insurance. McHenry said that should be ironed out this week.
McHenry also suggested other changes: Being able to buy insurance across state lines could boost competition. And he said states can help, too, through health care related tax breaks.
“States are in the tax game as well. They tax their citizens, they can give tax relief to those who need it in order to buy health insurance as well,” he said.
The bill does not include many of the changes President Trump promised voters. But McHenry noted that Trump supports it.
“I cannot speak for the president, I cannot tweet for the president,” he said. “The president on Friday endorsed our plan and he said publicly … and privately … that he is not just in favor of this 100 percent, he is behind this 1000 percent. You can decide for yourself what that means.”
You can listen to the full conversation with Congressman McHenry here.