Mark Meadows

Mark Meadows

NORTH CAROLINA's 11th DISTRICT

Rep. Meadows' Statement on AHCA

2017/03/24

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) released the following statement:

“I promised the people of North Carolina’s 11th District that I would fight for a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act and a replacement with a market-driven approach that brings down costs and provides more choices for the American people. I remain wholeheartedly committed to following through on this promise. I know President Trump is committed to repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a system that works for American families, and I look forward to working with him to do just that.”

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Cruz, Freedom Caucus chairman lay out health plan demands: 'The time to act is now upon us'

2017/03/16

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, argue in a new op-ed that the current GOP effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare does not go far enough.

"After years of talk, we know that the Republican repeal-and-replace effort will soon be judged by three criteria: Does it make health care more affordable? Does it give consumers more choices? Does it provide Americans more control over their families’ health care?" the lawmakers wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

"As of now, the House’s bill neither fully repeals ObamaCare nor passes these three tests," they added.
 

Cruz and Meadows, however, argue that there is "a path forward" toward consensus in the House and the Senate.

"First, we must lower insurance premiums. Nothing matters more. The current House bill would not achieve this, because it doesn’t repeal all of ObamaCare’s insurance mandates," the lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers say Republicans risk a backlash from the voters who will blame the GOP for lack of meaningful reform.

"We cannot give voters a procedural excuse for why we couldn’t get the job done," they wrote.

Second, the lawmakers say Republicans "shouldn’t replace ObamaCare’s subsidies with yet another health-care entitlement."

"Instead, we should implement nonrefundable tax credits, which can be deducted from payroll taxes for lower earners," they wrote.

Lastly, Cruz and Meadows advocate for an immediate freeze to ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion.

"A freeze wouldn’t take away coverage from any person currently enrolled—it wouldn’t pull the rug out from anybody—but it would prevent states from adding more enrollees to the expansion population, which the federal government would be responsible for funding," the pair wrote.

"The time to act is now upon us. If Republicans join together with united purpose and tackle these areas of concern, we will have finally delivered on our promise."

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Three Criteria for Health Reform

2017/03/15

By 

TED CRUZ and

MARK MEADOWS

Updated March 15, 2017 9:27 p.m. ET

Republicans have a historic opportunity to follow through on our promise to repeal ObamaCare. The recent elections that focused on the law’s repeal—2010, 2014 and 2016—were massive GOP victories. The American people gave our party unified control of the federal government, and a mandate for meaningful change.

After years of talk, we know that the Republican repeal-and-replace effort will soon be judged by three criteria: Does it make health care more affordable? Does it give consumers more choices? Does it provide Americans more control over their families’ health care?

As of now, the House’s bill neither fully repeals ObamaCare nor passes these three tests. Yet there’s a path forward—if the administration and Republicans from across the political spectrum can put aside past differences to find consensus. Here is how we propose the House and Senate come together to do just that:

First, we must lower insurance premiums. Nothing matters more. The current House bill would not achieve this, because it doesn’t repeal all of ObamaCare’s insurance mandates. Of the few it addresses, the bill delays their repeal. We must abolish ObamaCare’s mandates immediately; Americans need relief from higher premiums and cannot wait until 2020 or beyond. 

The single biggest factor causing frustration with ObamaCare is skyrocketing costs. The average family’s annual premiums on employer-sponsored plans under the law have increased by more than $5,000. The insurance mandates are a primary driver of these spikes. If we leave these mandates in place or delay their repeal, premiums will remain too high for too long, as studies by the Congressional Budget Office and others have shown. If premiums continue to skyrocket, we will have failed, and Americans will rightly direct their frustration at the ballot box toward the Republican majority.

We cannot give voters a procedural excuse for why we couldn’t get the job done. Some have argued, incorrectly, that the Senate’s Byrd Rule precludes repealing these insurance mandates through the reconciliation process. That simply isn’t true. The current version of the bill already repeals or modifies a few of the mandates. Why wouldn’t we repeal all the major insurance mandates for the sake of truly lower health-care costs? How can modifying a mandate comply with Byrd, but repealing it not comply? Both have billions in budgetary effect, the central prerequisite for reconciliation.

We should follow the text of the Budget Act, which establishes the reconciliation process. Fully repealing the insurance mandates would comply with both the letter and the spirit of the statute. More important, the Senate parliamentarian does not ultimately determine what is allowable under reconciliation. That authority falls to the Senate and the vice president, the chamber’s presiding officer. As the former Senate parliamentarian Robert Dove once explained, the vice president is “the ultimate decider” on reconciliation: “The parliamentarian only can advise. It is the vice president who rules.”

To further lower premiums, we should allow families to pay for health insurance from expanded health savings accounts. Allowing premium payments from HSAs would reduce costs, provide greater parity between employer and individual coverage, and encourage insurance portability, which also directly addresses concerns related to pre-existing conditions.

We should also include in the reconciliation bill additional reforms that will drive down costs: Consumers should be enabled to purchase insurance plans across state lines to create a true 50-state marketplace. Small businesses should be allowed to pool together in association plans to get better rates for their employees.

Second, we shouldn’t replace ObamaCare’s subsidies with yet another health-care entitlement. Instead, we should implement nonrefundable tax credits, which can be deducted from payroll taxes for lower earners. Anyone who gets a paycheck has a large amount withheld by payroll taxes. Thus, this nonrefundable credit would benefit lower-income individuals by letting them keep more of what they earn.

Third, ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion should be immediately frozen and then phased out over time. A freeze wouldn’t take away coverage from any person currently enrolled—it wouldn’t pull the rug out from anybody—but it would prevent states from adding more enrollees to the expansion population, which the federal government would be responsible for funding.

During the phaseout, we should implement work requirements for healthy working-age adults in the Medicaid expansion population. ObamaCare overextended Medicaid beyond those people that the program was intended to serve—the disabled elderly, pregnant women and needy children. Too often now, these people and their families have been forced onto waiting lists while money has poured into the expansion population. Freezing ObamaCare’s expansion immediately will stop this misdirection of the Medicaid program without taking away anyone’s coverage.

We should also implement true Medicaid block grants to the states. Republicans understand that in its current form, Medicaid does not work well. Much of the dysfunction is the result of one-size-fits-all federal rules that are forced on every state. Instead of per capita caps with federal strings still attached, we should allow states to innovate to help produce better health results. That’s why the reconciliation bill should include true block grants for Medicaid funding, which actually would allow states to transform their Medicaid programs and better serve vulnerable populations, without having to ask “Mother, may I” of the federal government.

In any case, a comprehensive plan to reform Medicaid must restrain the program’s growth rate if it is to be fiscally responsible in the long term and not allow for out-of-control spending.

Republicans have pledged for six years to repeal ObamaCare and return choice to America’s health-care system. The time to act is now upon us. If Republicans join together with united purpose and tackle these areas of concern, we will have finally delivered on our promise.

Mr. Cruz, a Texas Republican, is a U.S. senator. Mr. Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, is chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.

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Conservatives Demand Changes On Health Care Bill As GOP Leaders Sound Shaky

2017/03/15

WASHINGTON ― House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) acknowledged Wednesday there will have to be changes to the House Republicans’ health care bill, just as conservatives acknowledged that, short of a massive overhaul to the measure, they probably won’t support the legislation.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, emerged from the HFC meeting late Wednesday to suggest that Republicans may have to start over.

“We’re confident tonight that there are not the votes to modify this current bill to make it acceptable to conservatives and moderates alike,” Meadows said.

Pressed later on that point ― whether there were no changes leaders could make to win over conservatives ― Meadows walked his comment back and said that, if leaders were willing to negotiate “in good faith,” then maybe the Freedom Caucus could deal. But he stressed that the far-right’s biggest concern was the high cost of premiums and that the current bill “does not lower premiums in any meaningful way.”

For leaders like Ryan who seem to believe they can win over conservatives by giving in on minor changes like work requirements for Medicaid, the new focus of premiums can’t be welcome comments.

For the first time in the health care debate, Ryan acknowledged Wednesday what the White House has signaled for some time: that there will have to be changes. Ryan said now that Republicans have a Congressional Budget Office assessment on the legislation, they could “incorporate feedback” from members. Or, as Ryan put it earlier in the day, “We have consensus, and we’re fine-tuning that consensus.”

If you weren’t sure of the degree to which Ryan is now uncertain about the future of the bill, he refused to confirm that the measure would get a floor vote next week, deferring scheduling questions to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and noting that the House had a snow day Tuesday.

That shift in tone and willingness to adopt changes were welcome signs for conservatives. “Ten days ago it was a binary choice,” former Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said. “And now it’s a, ‘It won’t pass without change.’” (Jordan agreed he was taking some “literary license” with Ryan’s words.)

Consensus-tuning aside, conservatives recognize that it’s unlikely leadership will tear out the advance refundable tax credit portion of the bill, which far-right members hate but is the underpinning of the GOP’s replacement plan. The Freedom Caucus now seems focused on portions of the bill that would weaken coverage in favor of lowering premiums.

Conservatives have set their targets on the continuous coverage provisions that prevent insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, as well as language that lays out essential benefits in coverage.

The current bill would allow anyone with a pre-existing condition to get insurance, but someone who chose not to be insured and then got sick would be subject to a 30 percent surcharge. In the conservative plan written by Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), individuals have a two-year window to purchase insurance and then must maintain coverage. Switching to that system would lower premiums, but it also would leave many people who elect not to buy insurance devastated if they were to get sick.

My understanding of where we’re at is we’re going to insist on a full repeal coupled with a repeal of the regulations.Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.)

Meadows told reporters Wednesday that the Freedom Caucus would be producing an amendment later this week ― probably Friday ― that would address premiums. Although he wouldn’t go into specifics, sources indicated that the continuous-coverage element and eliminating plan requirements for essential health benefits, which mandate that insurers cover things like mental health and maternity care, would probably be the main focus of the amendment.

Meadows acknowledged that the Medicaid changes conservatives want could be a hang-up for moderates. Conservatives had wanted to accelerate the phaseout of the Medicaid expansion from 2020 to 2018, but members understand that change is probably a non-starter in the Senate and could imperil votes in the House.

Instead, Meadows said, the Freedom Caucus was now focused on an amendment that, he thought, could be supported by conservatives and moderates alike, “and truly, fundamentally, change the direction of this bill, where it actually lowers premiums.”

There are some immediate problems with such an amendment. For one, Republicans could run into problems in the Senate and a legislative rule that prevents reconciliation language from making policy changes. Another issue is that HFC members continue to insist that they want a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“My understanding of where we’re at is we’re going to insist on a full repeal coupled with a repeal of the regulations,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) told The Huffington Post on Wednesday night.

Part of the reason Republicans preserve some portions of Obamacare is that repealing all of it would violate the so-called Byrd rule, which would require 60 votes in the Senate. Asked whether he thought it was likely that leadership would agree to those changes, Brooks was undeterred.

“It doesn’t make any difference whether they agree with it or not; that’s our position,” he said.

“They can work with the big government folks, or they can work with the little government folks. It’s their choice,” Brooks said.

Leadership doesn’t seem to be working all that much with conservatives. Meadows reported Wednesday night that, save an informal conversation he had with Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), he hasn’t communicated with leadership for two weeks. Meanwhile, he’s been in contact with the White House almost every day.

But Meadows believes Paul Ryan and other GOP leaders recognize they have to come to the table if they want to pass the health care bill.

“We are confident that, based on the whip count that we did today, that there are more than enough votes to assure that amendments need to be made,” Meadows said.

Meadows dodged questions about a specific vote count, but he said currently there were “definitely” more than 21 hard Republican votes against the bill, which would be enough to sink the legislation. “Much more than 21 hard noes,” Meadows said.

Asked if he meant overall or just in the Freedom Caucus, he said overall. And then he added that there were more than 21 in the Freedom Caucus too.

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Freedom Caucus promises amendment to fix Obamacare repeal bill

2017/03/15

The conservative House Freedom Caucus is drafting a major amendment to the GOP plan to repeal Obamacare after House Speaker Paul Ryan conceded the bill needed to be fixed.

Caucus chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told reporters after a meeting of the caucus Wednesday night that they were working on an amendment that could thread the needle and get support from both conservatives and moderates for the American Health Care Act.

Meadows didn't elaborate on what would be in the amendment, besides saying that he plans to release it on Friday.

"At this point it is all about lowering healthcare premiums and trying to keep it narrowly focused," he said referring to the amendment's contents.

Meadows added he has had conversations with House moderate GOP members, which have been concerned about the bill after the Congressional Budget Office estimated 24 million people would be without insurance over the next decade.

"I think moderates' main concern has been the Medicaid side of things," Meadows said. "I think there is a path where we can work in a meaningful way to address Medicaid concerns and yet still address conservative concerns."

Conservatives have called for ending the Medicaid expansion early, as the current bill sunsets it in 2020 and replaces Medicaid funding to a per-capita cap system. Conservatives want the expansion to end in 2018 but moderate Senators are likely to balk at that change.

Meadows said that neither the White House nor GOP leadership has seen the amendment, which the caucus is still ironing out.

However, Meadows believes that the administration genuinely wants to come to the table on the bill.

Meadows said that if GOP leadership approves the amendment then it could "allow Freedom Caucus members to be a yes on the bill."

The House leadership is performing a whip count on Wednesday night to determine support for the AHCA, which guts Obamacare and partially replaces it.

Meadows was confident that now the GOP doesn't have enough support to get the bill through the House as it currently stands.

"There are more than a definite 21 hard nos," he said, referring to the number of members the GOP can afford to lose in the House.

Ryan said during a news conference Wednesday night that he pledged to "improve" and "refine" the bill, which has gotten opposition from conservatives and moderates in the party.

The next step in the American Health Care Act is to go before the House Budget Committee on Thursday. Meadows said the caucus is encouraging its members on the committee to not deliver a "no" vote on the bill.

"We want to be able to amend this bill," he said. "If we killed it in Budget we would not have that opportunity."

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Three Criteria for Health Reform

2017/03/15

Republicans have a historic opportunity to follow through on our promise to repeal ObamaCare. The recent elections that focused on the law’s repeal—2010, 2014 and 2016—were massive GOP victories. The American people gave our party unified control of the federal government, and a mandate for meaningful change.

After years of talk, we know that the Republican repeal-and-replace effort will soon be judged by three criteria: Does it make health care more affordable? Does it give consumers more choices? Does it provide Americans more control over their families’ health care?

As of now, the House’s bill neither fully repeals ObamaCare nor passes these three tests. Yet there’s a path forward—if the administration and Republicans from across the political spectrum can put aside past differences to find consensus. Here is how we propose the House and Senate come together to do just that:

First, we must lower insurance premiums. Nothing matters more. The current House bill would not achieve this, because it doesn’t repeal all of ObamaCare’s insurance mandates. Of the few it addresses, the bill delays their repeal. We must abolish ObamaCare’s mandates immediately; Americans need relief from higher premiums and cannot wait until 2020 or beyond. 

The single biggest factor causing frustration with ObamaCare is skyrocketing costs. The average family’s annual premiums on employer-sponsored plans under the law have increased by more than $5,000. The insurance mandates are a primary driver of these spikes. If we leave these mandates in place or delay their repeal, premiums will remain too high for too long, as studies by the Congressional Budget Office and others have shown. If premiums continue to skyrocket, we will have failed, and Americans will rightly direct their frustration at the ballot box toward the Republican majority.

We cannot give voters a procedural excuse for why we couldn’t get the job done. Some have argued, incorrectly, that the Senate’s Byrd Rule precludes repealing these insurance mandates through the reconciliation process. That simply isn’t true. The current version of the bill already repeals or modifies a few of the mandates. Why wouldn’t we repeal all the major insurance mandates for the sake of truly lower health-care costs? How can modifying a mandate comply with Byrd, but repealing it not comply? Both have billions in budgetary effect, the central prerequisite for reconciliation.

We should follow the text of the Budget Act, which establishes the reconciliation process. Fully repealing the insurance mandates would comply with both the letter and the spirit of the statute. More important, the Senate parliamentarian does not ultimately determine what is allowable under reconciliation. That authority falls to the Senate and the vice president, the chamber’s presiding officer. As the former Senate parliamentarian Robert Dove once explained, the vice president is “the ultimate decider” on reconciliation: “The parliamentarian only can advise. It is the vice president who rules.”

To further lower premiums, we should allow families to pay for health insurance from expanded health savings accounts. Allowing premium payments from HSAs would reduce costs, provide greater parity between employer and individual coverage, and encourage insurance portability, which also directly addresses concerns related to pre-existing conditions.

We should also include in the reconciliation bill additional reforms that will drive down costs: Consumers should be enabled to purchase insurance plans across state lines to create a true 50-state marketplace. Small businesses should be allowed to pool together in association plans to get better rates for their employees.

Second, we shouldn’t replace ObamaCare’s subsidies with yet another health-care entitlement. Instead, we should implement nonrefundable tax credits, which can be deducted from payroll taxes for lower earners. Anyone who gets a paycheck has a large amount withheld by payroll taxes. Thus, this nonrefundable credit would benefit lower-income individuals by letting them keep more of what they earn.

Third, ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion should be immediately frozen and then phased out over time. A freeze wouldn’t take away coverage from any person currently enrolled—it wouldn’t pull the rug out from anybody—but it would prevent states from adding more enrollees to the expansion population, which the federal government would be responsible for funding.

During the phaseout, we should implement work requirements for healthy working-age adults in the Medicaid expansion population. ObamaCare overextended Medicaid beyond those people that the program was intended to serve—the disabled elderly, pregnant women and needy children. Too often now, these people and their families have been forced onto waiting lists while money has poured into the expansion population. Freezing ObamaCare’s expansion immediately will stop this misdirection of the Medicaid program without taking away anyone’s coverage.

We should also implement true Medicaid block grants to the states. Republicans understand that in its current form, Medicaid does not work well. Much of the dysfunction is the result of one-size-fits-all federal rules that are forced on every state. Instead of per capita caps with federal strings still attached, we should allow states to innovate to help produce better health results. That’s why the reconciliation bill should include true block grants for Medicaid funding, which actually would allow states to transform their Medicaid programs and better serve vulnerable populations, without having to ask “Mother, may I” of the federal government.

In any case, a comprehensive plan to reform Medicaid must restrain the program’s growth rate if it is to be fiscally responsible in the long term and not allow for out-of-control spending.

Republicans have pledged for six years to repeal ObamaCare and return choice to America’s health-care system. The time to act is now upon us. If Republicans join together with united purpose and tackle these areas of concern, we will have finally delivered on our promise.

Mr. Cruz, a Texas Republican, is a U.S. senator. Mr. Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, is chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.

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What One Key Lawmaker Says Voters Will Judge GOP Over in Obamacare Repeal

2017/03/13

For Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the success of House Republican leaders’ Obamacare repeal and replacement plan, as well as the success of President Donald Trump, hinges on one thing: the cost of insurance premiums.

“We ultimately will be judged only by one factor: if insurance premiums come down,” Meadows told The Daily Signal. “If the average person who is paying their bill looks at their bill, and it continues to stay down over the next three to four years, then this president will be applauded. If they continue to go up and health care costs continue to go up, then he won’t.”

For Meadows, who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, lowering premiums has emerged as his top priority for health care reform.

But as it stands, the North Carolina Republican said, the House GOP’s replacement plan leaves in place the very provisions of Obamacare that many believe caused premiums to rise: insurance regulations and mandates.

Republican leaders unveiled the American Health Care Act, their replacement plan for Obamacare, to much fanfare last week.

But conservative lawmakers and groups quickly criticized the bill for not repealing enough of the health care law, and for creating what they call a new entitlement program in the form of refundable, age-based tax credits.

Since then, the White House has held frequent meetings with conservatives such as Meadows to discuss their issues with the bill and what provisions they would like to see changed.

And for the Freedom Caucus chairman, a repeal of the insurance mandates and regulations could be the key to getting him closer to “yes.”

“That particular item would have a lot more sway with me than perhaps any other issues that we’re discussing,” Meadows said in an interview with The Daily Signal.

“[The American people] could care less about the language, the Byrd rule, members arguing back and forth,” he said. “The American people are going to care about one thing, and that’s premiums going down.”

Obamacare required what it calls essential health benefits, 10 items and services insurance plans have to cover without co-payments, including maternity care, mental health services, and preventive care.

Health policy experts and the Congressional Budget Office said the mandates caused premiums to rise and, anecdotally, consumers complained that the mandates forced them to purchase plans that included services they would never use.

The mandates and regulations long have been a target of conservatives, who want to see Republicans undo those provisions of Obamacare in the bill repealing other major components of the health care law.

But the replacement plan rolled out last week noticeably leaves in place the essential health benefits mandate and other insurance regulations—requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions and allowing dependents to remain on their parents’ plan until age 26, for example.

“[Leadership] wants us to vote for something that, if that’s all we get, insurance premiums will go up,” Meadows said. “I’m not willing to take a risk on behalf of the people I represent to do that and get a situation where we’ve repealed part of [Obamacare], replaced part of it, and with that, we have premiums going up.”

Meadows, along with other conservatives in the roughly 40-member Freedom Caucus, has come out swinging against Republican leadership’s Obamacare replacement plan.

Many disagree with the proposal’s phasing out of expanded eligibility for Medicaid and allowing states, as of 2020, to enroll those who are newly eligible at a reduced federal matching rate.

Conservatives also oppose the proposal’s new system of refundable, age-based tax credits, which they argue creates a new entitlement program.

So far, the bill faces an uphill battle in the House, where it needs 218 votes to pass.

Republicans control 237 seats in the lower chamber, so 19 “no” votes would cause the bill to tank.

Since House Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled the Obamacare replacement plan last Monday, the White House has held meetings with conservative lawmakers and groups to discuss their issues with it.

Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, met last week with Trump for several hours, and the White House will continue its charm offensive over a night of bowling this week with more Freedom Caucus members.

The Freedom Caucus chairman said his discussion with Trump was “one of the best conversations that a member could have with the president of the United States,” adding that he was pleased to see that Trump was willing to negotiate.

“We had real discussions about how we can make the plan better, how we can give consumers more choices in the insurance market, because this repeal and replacement doesn’t do that until we get to phase three,” Meadows said, referencing the three-pronged approach Republican leaders and the White House are taking to repealing and replacing Obamacare.

The three phases are: pass the American Health Care Act, make further changes to the health insurance market through administrative action by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, and then implement more replacement provisions through other legislation.

But though the White House has continued to listen to conservative lawmakers—White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, a former Freedom Caucus member himself, attended the group’s weekly meeting last week and has stayed in touch with members—conservatives have a less willing negotiating partner in Ryan.

Republicans are using a budget tool called reconciliation to fast-track the Obamacare replacement plan through the Senate. Ryan has maintained that any changes made to the bill could run afoul of Senate rules governing the reconciliation process.

The House speaker also told reporters last week that the American Health Care Act was derived from House GOP leadership’s “Better Way” agenda, rolled out last year and crafted with input from all Republicans.

“Everybody doesn’t get what they want, but we’re getting much better policy here,” Ryan said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“Let me put it this way: Obamacare is collapsing,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “If we just did nothing, washed our hands of the situation, we would see a further collapse of the health insurance markets.”

“So we feel an obligation to step in front of that collapse and replace this law with one that works, that has more freedom,” he continued. “Some people would like it to be done a little bit differently.”

But Meadows disagrees with Ryan on both points.

The North Carolina Republican said GOP leaders did ask for input from all House Republicans on the “Better Way” plan, but that differs from the actual legislation rolled out.

“There’s a big difference between putting together a visionary document that had some goals and principles, and crafting legislation that everyone can get behind,” he said. “It’s like saying you’re for school choice, but do you do that with vouchers or scholarships or tax credits?”

The Freedom Caucus chairman also disagreed with the notion that making changes to leadership’s Obamacare replacement plan, such as including a repeal of the insurance mandates, would violate the rules of reconciliation, a process that may be used only on matters affecting taxes, spending, or the deficit .

“We’re making assumptions on what will pass and what will not pass without it being adjudicated,” Meadows said. “We ought to try.”

Chris Jacobs, a Republican health policy expert and founder of Juniper Research Group, said there is an argument to be made that the insurance regulations and mandates can, and should, be repealed through the GOP leadership’s proposal.

Jacobs pointed to a letter the Congressional Budget Office sent to then-Sen. Evan Bayh in 2009, as well as estimates from the Obama administration, that outlined the budgetary effects of Obamacare’s insurance regulations —a requirement reconciliation bills must satisfy.

“There’s no reason on the insurance regulations not to try [to repeal],” Jacobs, who worked for Vice President Mike Pence, then a congressman, when the original Obamacare debate was taking place, told The Daily Signal. “The idea of preemptively surrendering on the insurance regulations, it’s a question of is it … we can’t do this on reconciliation, or we just don’t want to?”

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Schools want out of Michelle Obama's lunch rules, kids say 'Yuck'

2017/03/13

Faced with students who won't buy lunches low in salt and sugar and jacked up with bland-tasting grains, the nation's 54,000 school cafeteria workers are urging Washington to junk health-focused rules pushed by former first lady Michelle Obama.

Feeling that they have an ally on their side in the Trump administration, their lobby group, the School Nutrition Association, plans to press for less-strict restrictions on ingredients that taste good.

The reason is simple: Studies show that public school students aren't eating what cafeterias are serving, turning many operations into money-losers. While the school districts can opt out, doing so results in federal subsidy cuts for those programs.

"Overly prescriptive regulations have resulted in unintended consequences, including reduced student lunch participation, higher costs and food waste. Federal nutrition standards should be modified to help school menu planners manage these challenges and prepare nutritious meals that appeal to diverse student tastes," a new policy paper from the association said.

Salt's a biggie, and the Department of Agriculture under former President Barack Obama was pressing for even lower amounts, which the association wants to shelve. It warned that "naturally occurring sodium present in meat, milk and other low-fat dairy foods will force schools to take nutritious choices off the menu, including many soups, entrée salads and low-fat deli sandwiches."

Whole grains are a problem, too. The Obama administration pushed for expensive all-grain products to be used, forcing schools to spend more on the products kids won't buy. As a result, they want that regulation eased.

"Students are eating more whole grain breads and rolls, but schools are struggling with limited availability of specialty whole grain items and meeting students' regional and cultural preferences for certain refined grains, such as white rice, pasta, grits, bagels or tortillas," said the policy paper.

The association's plea is already heard in Congress. North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, who heads the House Freedom Caucus, is leading the fight to repeal the former first lady's "Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010."

"The federal government involving itself in what is served in school lunches is the epitome of government overreach," Meadows told Secrets. "Districts that have chosen to opt out have been able to provide more options to students and better-quality services. At the beginning of the year, I released a report of more than 300 regulations the Trump administration can undo, which included overly burdensome federal lunch program standards. It's the perfect example of how government interference generally makes a small problem far worse."

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Freedom Caucus chairman: GOP health plan would raise premiums

2017/03/10

Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said Friday he thinks the GOP's ObamaCare repeal-and-replace plan would actually drive insurance premiums up. 

That's because, he said, the plan as it stands still includes protections for people with pre-existing conditions and doesn't remove the ObamaCare provision that requires insurance companies offer essential health benefits.

"If you take healthy people off and you keep all the mandates that are there, premiums will go up," Meadows told reporters Friday. 

He said in the short run, premiums could come down, but that they'd likely go up in the long term.

"I want to get rid of all the insurance regs and mandates that were in the Affordable Care Act." 

"That's why there's not enough votes, because at this point, the No. 1 priority ... is driving premiums down." 

Freedom Caucus members haven't taken a formal position against the American Health Care Act, but they came out of their meeting Tuesday telling reporters that it would not have enough votes to pass the House.

Meadows's comments come after he met with President Trump, who has been pitching the legislation to skeptical members. While GOP leadership doesn't seem open to making significant changes to the plan, Meadows said Trump is open to anything that could reduce premium costs.

"I'm very confident, based on my conversation with the White House, that there is a willingness to negotiate in good faith things that drive down healthcare premiums," Meadows said. 

The changes Meadows and other Freedom Caucus members are seeking could come in the form of amendments offered to the bill during its markup in the Rules Committee. 

"We're working right now on amendments to be brought up for rules. ... It's too early to say exactly what will be brought up and who will bring them up," he said. 

"We're trying to see what we can come up with and at the same time understanding that negotiations are ongoing." 

The GOP's plan passed the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees this week. 

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Freedom Caucus head fires Obamacare warning shot

2017/03/10

If Republican House leaders are counting on conservatives to cave and back their version of an Obamacare replacement bill, they should think again, a top conservative lawmaker warned Friday.

“That would be a faulty assumption,” said Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.

The caucus’ two-dozen members have enough clout to sink any pending Obamacare replacement bill, but they’re under heavy pressure from GOP leaders to back the current version, which conservatives say doesn’t go far enough to undo Obamacare’s mandates and Medicaid expansion.

Meadows, who met Thursday with President Donald Trump, said he’s confident that the president is willing to negotiate “in good faith” with conservative lawmakers who would like to see changes to the pending legislation.

“Do I expect all of the issues that many of the Freedom Caucus members would like to have will be in a final bill that passes? The answer is no,” he said. “And so it’s about a good-faith negotiation and I think all of our members are willing to do that.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan and his top allies are warning that there’s no room to make major changes to the bill, which relies on scaled back tax credits and a multi-year phase-out of Medicaid expansion to alter Obamacare. If they push the bill too far to the right, they risk losing support of House moderates, and the bill is already facing an uphill climb in the Senate, where only three GOP defections could sink its prospects.

Asked about leadership’s reluctance to accept changes, Meadows said they may want to reconsider.

“If that’s the best that they can do then perhaps they have a different whip count than I do,” he said.

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Contact Information

1516 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-6401
Fax 202-226-6422
meadows.house.gov

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.


Serving With

Walter Jones

NORTH CAROLINA's 3rd DISTRICT

Virginia Foxx

NORTH CAROLINA's 5th DISTRICT

Mark Walker

NORTH CAROLINA's 6th DISTRICT

David Rouzer

NORTH CAROLINA's 7th DISTRICT

Richard Hudson

NORTH CAROLINA's 8th DISTRICT

Robert Pittenger

NORTH CAROLINA's 9th DISTRICT

Patrick McHenry

NORTH CAROLINA's 10th DISTRICT

George Holding

NORTH CAROLINA's 13th DISTRICT

Ted Budd

NORTH CAROLINA's 13th DISTRICT

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