The day after the Senate’s own version of a new health care bill came out, influential leader of the House Freedom Caucus and Western North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows, R-Asheville, wasted no time in shooting it down.
“In its current form, the way that it is, we don’t have enough support among conservatives or moderates in either chamber to really get it to the president’s desk,” he told reporters on a conference call June 23.
Meadows said that he’d support the bill if it provided more flexibility for consumers and for insurers.
“The fundamental question continues to be, ‘How do we make sure that we bring premiums down substantially, and then how do we solidify the insurance market to make sure that there’s plenty of insurers there to provide the coverage?’”
For consumers, the answer is simple, Meadows said.
“There are a number of us that believe there should be an amendment in there that allows for people to purchase Obamacare plans but alongside that, purchase other non-compliant, non-ACA plans that would more accurately reflect the risk they have.”
As an example, he said that a person in his or her 50s might opt for more coverage on certain types of illnesses, and less coverage on others.
He also touts an expanded role for health savings accounts; Meadows said he’s on Obamacare and he pays around $19,000 a year before he gets any benefits.
“I would be better off to put $19,000 in a HSA,” he said. “Right now, we’re prohibited from doing that under the ACA. Giving consumers more choice on both of those items, I think if we got that it would go a long way to driving down premiums and getting something that is better for consumers.”
Getting something better for insurers also has to be an important part of any properly functioning health care bill, even though the impending collapse of Obamacare in some states is largely the result of self-sabotage that has driven insurers from the market.
As written, the Affordable Care Act assumed states would expand Medicaid, but a ruling in 2012 by the U.S. Supreme Court made expansion optional. Residents of those states that didn’t expand — like North Carolina — who earn less than the federal poverty level don’t qualify for subsidies and often don’t qualify for Medicaid, either.
President Donald Trump called the Senate bill “mean.”
“What he’s wanting is to be sure we not only handle pre-existing conditions but that we fund it in a way that doesn’t give people anxiety,” Meadows said. “I support him fully in that.”
Meadows has been on record as supporting high-risk pools for pre-existing conditions, and choked back tears after being confronted about their funding.
“I’m a numbers guy, and so as I looked at what came out of the House, I felt like we could increase that to make sure there is no anxiety,” he said. Meadows lost his sister and his father to cancer.
“If that is properly funded, if I come in and I have a pre-existing condition and I’m applying for insurance, not only do I have to be covered, but I get the same rate that you do,” he said. “I just get it handled differently by an invisible high risk pool that’s administered by the state and properly funded so my net premium is no different than yours.”
But that’s a big if. If funding to high-risk pools drop, coverage will dry up for those who need it most.
“Having that flexibility for insurance providers, we think, is incredibly important,” he said. “If we can do that, we believe that will have the greatest effect on rates and allowing people to make sure it’s affordable.”
Regardless, Meadows still thinks Congress is close to replacing Obamacare, which Trump made a priority during his campaign.
“I’m still optimistic we can improve the bill and get more consensus among moderates and conservatives both in the Senate and the House and ultimately get it to President Trump’s desk for his signature,” he said.Read More
In what’s becoming a bit of a pattern for Congressman Mark Meadows, R-Asheville, he and his House Freedom Caucus aren’t 100 percent on board with another one of President Donald Trump’s agenda items.
“It is very apparent that the president’s budget will not be to the levels that gain enough support in the House or the Senate to pass,” Meadows said, echoing comments he made to reporters on the Senate health care bill in a June 23 conference call.
“We’re probably closer along on the health care debate than on the budget debate right now, because we’re in three different camps in the House,” he said.
Fiscal hawks, defense hawks and moderate Republicans eyeing non-defense discretionary spending all have competing agendas.
“It’s trying to get those three groups together to come up with an agreement,” Meadows said.
The biggest budget concerns right now according to Meadows are proposed increases in defense spending and non-defense discretionary dollars.
“Increasing defense spending by close to $75 billion and keeping non-defense discretionary [spending] very close to current levels — that seems to be where most of the consensus is building in the House,” he said.
Locally, Trump’s proposed defunding of the Appalachian Regional Commission was a gut-shot to rural America, and rural Appalachia especially.
“Even under President Obama, there were things he funded that I agreed with, and things that I didn’t,” Meadows said. “This president is no different.”
Meadows continues to maintain that he’s fighting to preserve funding for the ARC, which for more than 50 years has funded economic development and infrastructure projects through federal-state partnerships across 13 states, including North Carolina.
Trump’s budget proposal seeks to defund the ARC completely, saving every American about $2.29 each year.
“The ARC and what it does for economic growth in my district is something important,” Meadows said. “I see any final budget including support for that. I can tell you that budgets we are discussing here in the House would support that as well.”Read More
U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows’ office announced Tuesday three meetings for the 4th annual NC-11 Veterans’ Solutions Seminars this August.
In partnership with the Charles George VA Medical Center staff, the N.C. Division of Veterans Affairs and the Veterans’ Affairs Winston-Salem Regional Benefit Office, Meadows will host a series of Veterans’ Solutions Seminars across the district to provide practical assistance to those who have served the nation, Meadows’ office announced in a release.
Veterans and their families will be invited to meet with members of Meadows’ staff, representatives from the VA hospital, benefit office and Division of Veterans Affairs at the seminars and will be able to learn more about available assistance with issues surrounding VA benefits, healthcare and disability.
The seminars will be:
Thursday, Aug. 3: Haywood County Senior Resource Center
9 a.m. to noon
81 Elmwood Way, Waynesville
Thursday, Aug. 3: Fletcher Town Hall
300 Old Cane Creek Road, Fletcher
Friday, Aug. 4: Foothills Higher Education Center
9 a.m. to noon
2128 S. Sterling St., Morganton
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Mark Meadows has announced the locations and times for the Fourth Annual NC-11 Veterans’ Solutions Seminars.
This August, Congressman Meadows, in partnership with the Charles George VA Medical Center staff, the NC Division of Veteran’s Affairs, and the Veterans’ Affairs Winston-Salem Regional Benefit Office, will host a series of Veterans’ Solutions Seminars across the 11th district to provide practical assistance to those who have served our nation.
Veterans and their families will be invited to meet with members of Congressman Meadows’ staff, representatives from the VA hospital, the benefit office, and the NC division of Veterans Affairs at the seminars. The veterans will be able to learn more about available assistance with issues surrounding VA benefits, healthcare, and disability.
The details of each seminar are below:
Thursday, August 3: Haywood County Senior Resource Center
9:00am – 12:00pm
81 Elmwood Way
Waynesville, NC 28786
Thursday, August 3: Fletcher Town Hall
1:00pm – 5:00pm
300 Old Cane Creek Road
Fletcher, NC 28732
Friday, August 4: Foothills Higher Education Center
9:00am – 12:00pm
2128 South Sterling Street
Morganton, NC 28655
Colorado Springs — Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said here Sunday the internal GOP debate over whether tax reform should include a border adjustment tax is at risk of upsetting Republican plans to pass any kind of tax reform bill this year.
"The two questions that have to be answered: when are we going to come to the realization the border adjustment tax cannot be part of real tax reform?" the House Freedom Caucus chairman told reporters on the fringes of the Seminar Network meeting of groups backed by the Koch brothers.
"And the second part of that is, are we going to hold up real debate on tax reform while we make that decision?" Meadows said.
He said those questions should be answered as quickly as possible so Republicans can get somewhere on tax reform this summer, and pass something by the fall. Conservatives are growing increasingly antsy about progress on both tax reform and healthcare, and want to be able to tell voters back home the GOP-led government is making a difference.
"If we can answer those two questions, hopefully we can answer those quickly," Meadows said. "It is my belief that we need to have the framework of what we're debating agreed to and in principle without legislative text by the end of July, to allow the whole month of August for those to work on legislative text, and CBO, et cetera, to try to work through some of those things so that we can really start debating it back and forth, both in the House and the Senate."
But Republican leaders so far have not completely given up the idea of a border adjusted tax. Under that plan, export sales by U.S. companies would not be taxed, but they also could not deduct the cost of imported inputs.
The Koch network of groups is opposed to the plan and say it would effectively raise taxes on U.S. consumers, and would let giant companies like Boeing escape almost all of their U.S. tax liability.
But while Meadows says Republicans need to figure out their position quickly, he said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has not yet given up on the plan.
"The Speaker now understands that he does not have the votes on the border adjustment tax," he said. "We're now into the phase of, can he convince enough people to change their mind? And the answer to that is, no."
Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., agreed and said the lack of a decision to scrap the border adjusted tax is only holding up and threatening progress.
"It's the type of thing, thought, that the longer it remains a part of the framework, the chances of successfully completing tax reform declines," he said.
DeSantis warned that trying to shove it through the House would be a disaster for Republicans.
"I don't think it can pass the House," he said. "The failure of the first healthcare bill would seem like a picnic compared to what would happen if you try to bring this thing... it would totally blow apart."Read More
The health care bill presented by Senate Republicans on Thursday doesn’t have enough support among conservatives or moderates in either chamber to make it to President Donald Trump’s desk, U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows says.
On a conference call with radio and newspaper reporters from the 11th District Friday, Meadows said the fundamental issue remains to be whether the legislation will bring down premiums and provide affordable coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Any bill that reaches the president’s desk with Meadows’ support will have to do both of those things, he said. He’s still optimistic that the bill can be improved enough to get consensus and get to Trump’s desk.
“The fundamental top priority has to be, does it lower premiums and stop forcing the hardworking American taxpayer from having to make a decision between mortgage payments or putting food on the table and their insurance premiums?” Meadows said. “Unless we address that, we will have failed.”
In terms of amendments to get Meadows’ support, he said the biggest areas that need to be addressed are expanding health savings accounts and having flexibility for consumers to have more choices – to where they can choose from 20 plans instead of four.
The other part would be expanding the ability of health savings accounts to allow more people to buy that type of coverage, he said. It’s something he feels he can get Democratic support for as well, giving more choice to consumers and driving down premiums.
Asked about Trump’s characterization of the House bill as “mean,” Meadows said he spoke to Trump earlier in the week, and what the president is talking about is a desire to make sure pre-existing conditions are handled and adequately funded. He added that he doesn’t see it so much as a characterization as a real push to get the Senate to increase the dollars there.
On criticisms of the Senate bill being drafted in secrecy, he said that that’s a Senate concern. While he is for open process and transparency and believes the more open and transparent the deliberation is, the better the product, he’s not a senator and will leave criticisms of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to North Carolina Republican Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis.
Neither this bill nor the House bill allows for coverage to be denied based on pre-existing conditions, Meadows said, noting that the provision in the Affordable Care Act remains in the House bill and the Senate bill.
The real question becomes whether premiums will be so high for those with pre-existing conditions that by default those individuals wouldn’t be covered, he said. That’s where the amendment offered by fellow Freedom Caucus members Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) and David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) to the House bill comes into play, creating invisible high-risk pools administered by states to even out premiums.
Meadows said he’s committed to properly funding that. If two people, one healthy and one with a pre-existing condition, were to buy insurance, the policy for the pre-existing condition would be picked up by the invisible high-risk pool, administered by the state and properly funded, ensuring that net-to-net, the premiums for both those policies end up the same.
Because North Carolina didn’t expand Medicaid, Meadows said he doesn’t see the impact from Medicaid changes in the bill being that great in the district. However, he wants to make sure the state gets its fair share for Gov. Roy Cooper and the legislature to deploy.
One thing Meadows says even Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) would agree with him about is that Medicaid today is broken. The real key will be allowing those dollars to be deployed by the governor and legislature to meet those needs.
This bill doesn’t go far enough to give that flexibility, he said, and more work needs to be done, likely with a broader Medicaid reform package outside of the Affordable Care Act repeal-and-replace measure.
Asked about his support for funding the Appalachian Regional Commission, which was cut entirely in Trump’s proposed budget, Meadows said his support continues to be unyielding for the ARC. He’s had some discussion with Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) about what the commission does for economic growth in the region.
“The ARC and what it does for economic growth in my district is something that is important,” he said. “I see any final budget actually including support for that.”
Meadows said he’s also a big supporter of Meals on Wheels. It’s apparent that the spending levels in the president’s budget will not be enough to gain support in the House or Senate, and concerns right now have to do with increasing the amount of money for defense in non-defense discretionary dollars.
The agreement right now would be to increase defense spending by close to $75 billion and keep non-defense discretionary close to current levels, “and that seems to be where most of the consensus is building in the House,” he said.
Next week is a critical week for the budget, he said, and there is growing pressure to break sequester primarily for the military. He said it would be a “monumental vote” not seen in the past three Congresses to do that, but that “we’re not there; it’s a work in progress.”Read More
Former FBI Director James Comey misled the American people during last year’s presidential campaign when he referred to the Clinton email scandal as a “matter,” not an investigation. He did it willfully. He did it intentionally. And he did it at the direction of Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Mr. Comey misled the American people in the early weeks of the Trump administration by furthering the perception that President Trump was under investigation, when in fact he was not. He again did this willfully and intentionally.
Comey recently admitted that, after being fired from the FBI, he had a friend leak an internal FBI document to the New York Times detailing a conversation Comey had with President Trump. Comey testified under oath that he ordered the leak to help create public momentum for the appointment of a special counsel, which we now know is Comey’s mentor and predecessor, Robert Mueller.
The American people want justice to be blind. They want equal justice and equal protection for everyone. But Mr. Comey’s actions continue to call his impartiality, and the impartiality of the Holder and Lynch Justice departments, into question.
On May 7, 2014, the House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for a special counsel to investigate the IRS targeting of conservatives for their political beliefs. Comey and Attorney General Eric Holder blocked the appointment. This despite the fact that the lead investigator they assigned to the case, Barbara Bosserman, was a max-out contributor to President Obama’s reelection campaign.
This is the type of unequal justice that Americans despise. No special counsel in the IRS targeting investigation. No special counsel for the Clinton email investigation. But if it’s about protecting Comey’s reputation and hurting President Trump, then of course there has to be a special counsel.
Throughout 2015 and 2016 there were calls from Congress for a special counsel in the Clinton email scandal. Again the Justice Department refused, even after it was revealed that Attorney General Loretta Lynch met privately with Bill Clinton less than a week before the FBI interviewed Hillary Clinton. No special counsel was established, even after some unusual Justice Department immunity deals were revealed, including those designed to protect Secretary Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills, and Bryan Pagliano, who set up the email server in the first place.
This is the type of unequal justice that Americans despise. No special counsel in the IRS targeting investigation. No special counsel for the Clinton email investigation. But if it’s about protecting Mr. Comey’s reputation and hurting President Trump, then of course there has to be a special counsel.
We appreciate Mr. Mueller’s service to our country, but his past testimony as FBI director before the House Judiciary Committee did not inspire confidence about his impartiality. Just four weeks after the treasury inspector general released the report on the IRS targeting scandal and the Justice Department began their “investigation” into the matter, Mr. Mueller could not answer even the most basic questions about the investigation. He was asked: “Who is the lead agent?” “How many agents have been assigned to the case?” And, “Have any victims been interviewed?” His responses were, “I don’t know,” “I don’t know,” and “I don’t know.”
Investigating the targeting of conservatives by the IRS, which was the biggest story in the news at the time, was clearly not a priority for Mr. Mueller. As FBI director, he didn’t even know who was doing what.
But as special counsel investigating the Trump administration? You’d better believe Mr. Mueller has handpicked the exact team he wants.
James Quarles, a partner at WilmerHale, was a $10,000 contributor to House and Senate Democrats. He also has a long history of supporting Democratic presidential candidates, including Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, Obama and Clinton.
Jeannie Rhee, a senior adviser to former Attorney General Eric Holder, was an Obama and Clinton supporter. She also represented the Clinton foundation in litigation, and personally represented Hillary Clinton.
Andrew Weissmann, a former Justice Department official, was also an Obama contributor.
In fact, of the dozen people named to Mueller’s investigation team so far, none have similarly supported Republican presidential candidates.
The House has a responsibility to defend the deeply-held American principle of equal justice under the law. That’s why we believe it’s time for the House to have hearings on the troubling matter of the motivation and organization of this investigation.
The past actions of Mr. Mueller and Mr. Comey as part of the Holder and Lynch justice departments call into question their impartiality. If this investigation is to be taken seriously, it is important that the American people get the answers they deserve.
Republican Jim Jordan represents Ohio's Fourth District in the U.S. House of Representatives and is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Republican Mark Meadows represents North Carolina's 11th Congressional District and is chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Republican Jody Hice serves Georgia's 10th Congressional District and is a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.Read More
Pray for the Shooting Victims
As many of you know, there was a shooting last week at the Republican Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria. In light of the terrible news, please be sure to pray for my friend Congressman Steve Scalise, Capitol police officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner (both of whom were injured while protecting everyone on the field), and the injured staffers Matt Mika and Zack Barth. Doctors are hopeful that all of them will make a full recovery—Congressman Scalise was upgraded to “fair” condition recently which is outstanding news!
Weeks like this one are a reminder that we cannot thank our Capitol Police officers enough for what they do every day. This situation could have been so much worse had they not been there in the line of duty. Please say a prayer for them. We often forget how much we really rely on our police until moments like these.
Senator Rand Paul was actually at the field at the time of the incident and said he saw officers Bailey and Griner continuing to protect the scene even after being shot. That's what courage and heroism look like. Thank God for them.
I joined MSNBC to talk about the incident. You can watch here.
Freedom Caucus Calls to Cancel August Recess
The House Freedom Caucus is officially calling on Republican leadership to cancel the August district work period so that we can continue legislation and do what we promised.
With repealing Obamacare, tax reform, budget items, and other issues left to finish--Congress has too many important commitments to keep and far too few accomplishments made so far to go home for a month. If we don’t make real, definitive progress on our goals by the end of July, then we should work in Washington, D.C. through the recess until we finish the job.
You can read more about our position here.
Interviews with CNBC and Fox News
Speaking of canceling the August district work period, I interviewed with Fox News and CNBC on that very issue—getting our jobs done and making sure that we get effective, comprehensive proposals on President Trump’s desk to sign before we leave. If we don’t do that, we shouldn’t go home.
Heritage Foundation Forum on Tax Reform
I really enjoyed attending a forum at Heritage Action on the issue of tax reform. Three of my House Freedom Caucus colleagues (Congressmen Jim Jordan, Dave Brat, and Warren Davidson) and I took part in a Q&A where we outlined some goals for a tax reform package. There are two key principles to know:
1) There is no consensus for the "Border Adjustment Tax" in Congress. We need to move on and debate a better proposal that benefits American families.
2) Timing is critical. It is absolutely essential that we have a finalized Tax Reform proposal ready to debate before August--and if we don't, we should cancel the August recess and keep working until we finish.
Interview with Bloomberg News
Right after the tax forum concluded, I got the chance to speak with Bloomberg News and recap some of the issues going on in Congress.
I’d encourage you to watch the full interview. You can do so here. Thanks to Kevin Cirilli and the outstanding team at Bloomberg for making the interview happen.
Visit from the NC-11 Classical Scholars
Some of the NC-11 "Classical Scholars" visited my DC office this week! This is an outstanding group of young people. Thanks to them for stopping by the office and giving us the opportunity to take them on a Capitol tour.
Visiting with the Classical Scholars!
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) released the following statement in memory of General Frank Earl Blazey, who passed away on Monday, June 19:
“When I think about those who represent the best of our nation, both in service and in sacrifice, General Frank Blazey is among the first to come to mind. General Blazey was not only a military hero but someone who never hesitated to pour himself out to his community, including his involvement in the Blue Ridge Honor Flight program and his work on my office’s Service Academy Board. Debbie and I are saddened to learn of his passing, and we send our thoughts and prayers to his family. He will be missed.”
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) released the following statement on the appointment of Cynthia Breyfogle as MidSouth Healthcare Network Director:
“There is little I could say that would do justice to the kind of asset that Cynthia Breyfogle has been to North Carolina public service, particularly in the care of our veterans. In my time serving in Congress, I’ve come to know Cynthia as a true professional, a dedicated worker, and someone with a deep commitment to serving families at the VA. When you look at the reasons why the Charles George VA Medical Center has been one of the best service facilities in the country, Cynthia’s outstanding leadership is right there at the top of the list. I wish her nothing but the best in her promotion. MidSouth Healthcare Network chose the right person for the job.”
1516 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
After working as a small business owner for 27 years, Representative Mark Meadows brings a business-style approach to Washington, D.C.
From owning and selling a successful restaurant to building a development company, Mark understands what the 63.7 million people in the United States who are self-employed or work for small businesses need to grow their businesses. He believes real job creation comes from the private sector, not the federal government. Mark recognizes that regulations are stifling job growth in this country and without a budget to set spending priorities, our federal government will continue to spend beyond its means.
While serving on the Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, Foreign Affairs, and Transportation and Infrastructure, Mark will hold the government accountable, protect American citizens and interests abroad, and ensure we have a modern transportation network which meets the needs of Western North Carolina and our country as a whole.
He is dedicated to providing top-notch constituent services to North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District and committed to upholding his Christian values and conservative principles while serving in Congress.
Mark lives in Jackson County with his wife Debbie. They have two college-age children, Blake and Haley.
Retweeted by RepMarkMeadows
It was great to get a visit from these Western NC 4-H students yesterday! These young people are outstanding--the skills and character they are
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