WASHINGTON — Conservative senators are pushing to diminish insurance coverage requirements imposed by President Barack Obama's health care law as Senate Republicans try fashioning legislation overhauling the nation's health care system.
Their ideas include erasing Obama consumer protections, such as barring higher premiums for people with pre-existing medical conditions, but allowing states to opt into them.
That's a more conservative twist on the health care bill the House narrowly approved last week. That measure retains the coverage protections but lets states get waivers to drop some of them.
Conservatives are also talking about curbing health care tax credits Republicans want to provide and slowing the growth of the Medicaid program for poor and disabled people.
Obama's insurance requirements are among the most popular aspects of his 2010 law, and conservatives' chances of annulling them in whatever bill GOP senators produce are uncertain. They're getting pushback from more centrist Republicans, and their proposals may not even be allowed into the measure because of special rules the Senate is using.
Win or lose, the effort is one example of the flashpoints senators face as they begin writing their closed-door effort to write the legislation.
"We're going to leave it up to consumers to decide what they want to buy, what they need, so we're going to eliminate mandates, not add them," No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters Thursday, referring to Obama's coverage requirements. But he added, "We haven't made any decisions."
Conservative Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, would like to eliminate Obama's requirement that insurers offer coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and charge them the same premiums they charge healthy customers, a GOP aide said.
Lee would also like to erase Obama's mandate that insurers cover a range of services such as maternity care and prescriptions, and the limitation that insurers charge older customers a maximum of three times more what they charge younger ones.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, also wants to curb Obama's coverage requirements, which he said in an interview are "the prime drivers of premiums skyrocketing." He praised the House bill for easing some of those provisions but said there is "considerably more work to be done."
A working group of 13 senators — which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has now opened up to all 52 Senate Republicans — is meeting twice weekly to discuss the bill. In addition, all 52 of them discuss the measure at three party lunches weekly.
Lee and Cruz are on the 13-member working group.
The House-passed bill continues to face strong public opposition, a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday said.
The poll found that only 21
With the exception of Republicans, majorities of people disapproved across demographic groups. That included 81
The bill does not break 50
Voters are also taking a dim view of Trump's handling of health care: 66
AP reporters Mary Clare Jalonick and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed.