MacArthur explains health care amendment

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Story highlights

  • The amendment backed by MacArthur helped woo a critical GOP voting bloc in Congress
  • MacArthur doesn't know how many moderate Republicans will back the plan.

(CNN)A Republican lawmaker whose amendment this week has inched Republicans closer to passing their health care bill says the change will protect "vulnerable people" while giving states greater flexibility.

"We need to protect the most vulnerable people in the current plan," Rep. Tom MacArthur told CNN's Alisyn Camerota Thursday on "New Day." "These are people with pre-existing conditions. We want to make sure they are protected."
"Secondly, we have to give the states flexibility to bring premiums down for everyone else," the New Jersey Republican added.
    The amendment was negotiated between MacArthur, a leader of the moderate Tuesday Group, and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows as another effort to bridge the gap between the two groups. The White House and House leadership were both consulted on the amendment, but there is still little proof that it will finally be the breakthrough that gets the health care bill passed in the House.
    The amendment would allow states to seek waivers to weaken several key Obamacare insurance reforms that protect those with pre-existing conditions, including the benefits insurers must cover in their policies and the ban on allowing carriers to charge more based on a person's health background.
    The congressman said his amendment will still allow those with pre-existing conditions to get coverage despite allowing states to seek waivers for pre-existing conditions.
    "What we have now is a health care system under great strain," he said. "The individual health care system, if it collapses, it will hurt millions of people."
    Despite many people approving of the way the Affordable Care Act works for people with pre-existing conditions, MacArthur said the way the plan works needs to change.
    "People like that and I like that too. It is critical," he said. "What a lot of people don't see (is) -- and after a lifetime in the insurance industry -- I see this system crumbling."
    "We have tens of millions of people who cannot afford insurance," the moderate Republican said. "We have to do both. But to make one group to pay unaffordable premiums is not the right answer."
    MacArthur doesn't know how many moderate Republicans -- whose support is now critical to the bill's chances of passage -- will back the plan.
    "My goal is to try to get everyone struggling with the bill to get to yes," he said. "No bill will satisfy everyone. This is certainly not a perfect bill."