Health and Science

Freedom Caucus holdout: GOP's Obamacare replacement an 'assault on our individual' rights

Rep. Yoho: Fighting for a 'clean repeal' of Obamacare
Rep. Yoho: Fighting for a 'clean repeal' of Obamacare

House Freedom Caucus member Ted Yoho told CNBC on Thursday he will vote against the GOP's Obamacare replacement without more concessions to get rid of "a growing entitlement."

The Florida Republican said he prefers a "clean repeal" of former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, but he acknowledges it's a negotiation.

"We're getting closer," Yoho said on "Squawk Box." "I have the utmost confidence in [Freedom Caucus] leadership that we will come out with a bill that the president will sign [and] that the American people will thank us for."

The House vote is crucial for the Trump agenda. President Donald Trump has said the repeal and replacement of Obamacare must happen before action can be taken on his other plans, including a major tax reduction.

Trump is expected to meet Thursday with the House Freedom Caucus to try to get the conservative group on board, as GOP leaders offered a tweak of their health-care plan Wednesday night to include getting rid of the set of minimum benefits required of insurers.

From the official POTUS account, Trump on Thursday morning tweeted a call to action to Americans in favor of the bill supported by the White House and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

You were given many lies with #Obamacare! Go with our plan! Call your Rep & let them know you're behind #AHCA

But Yoho said, "If we don't [really] repeal this, we're going to be left with a skeleton of the Affordable Care Act." He claimed the Republican House bill does not go far enough to obliterate Obamacare. "I want to make sure we get rid of a growing entitlement."

The government already provides health care for veterans through Veterans Affairs, seniors via Medicare, and the poor with Medicaid he said. "They're unsustainable."

Leaving the Obamacare "skeleton" in place would send a message the government should have a say in the type of health insurance and coverage Americans must have, Yoho argued.

"That's an assault on our individual freedoms," the third-term congressman said. "It's a Constitutional principle that we need to stand and uphold."

Yoho said the goal of the Freedom Caucus is to provide Americans with access to care at reasonable prices by allowing "the free market thrive."

Rep. Messer: Repeal and replace Obamacare 'messy' process
Rep. Messer: Repeal and replace Obamacare 'messy' process

Meanwhile, Republican Policy Committee Chairman Luke Messer told CNBC in a separate interview Thursday morning that he can see where the Freedom Caucus members are coming from: "These guys love their country and they're trying to make it better."

But Messer, the fifth-ranking Republican in the House, said on "Squawk Box" that failure to keep the GOP promise to get rid of the Affordable Care Act is not an option.

"We're promised for seven years we're going to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better," the Indiana congressman said. "Americans have demanded this change" by electing Trump as president and keeping the GOP in control of Capitol Hill.

"It's a messy process," he admitted, while ultimately predicting passage of the GOP health-care bill. "We're going to keep this process moving."

The Freedom Caucus holdouts are savvy enough to know the limitations of the budget reconciliation procedure that the House is using to pass the health bill, Messer said.

Reconciliation allows only a bare majority in the Senate, rather than 60 votes, but also limits what Congress is allowed to include in the bill.

"They understand that the filibuster requires 60 votes and that we're not going to get eight of my Democratic colleagues to vote with us to completely repeal Obamacare," Messer said.

Initially, House GOP leaders had argued changes to Essential Health Benefits part would not pass muster in the Senate, but seem more willing to test the waters now.