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(Susan Walsh / AP)

Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the conservative hardliner House Freedom Caucus, is voicing what many health care experts are saying: The current Obamacare repeal and replacement bill being considered by the House would actually raise premiums.

That has huge political ramifications. Speaker Paul Ryan and the rest of House leadership are gambling conservatives will eventually vote yes on the bill when it comes to the House floor, because it is Obamacare Repeal. But if Meadows — backed up by wonks of all ideologies — can say the House bill is actually worse for people than Obamacare, then he is perfectly free to vote no on it.

The key quote:

"Obviously we're going to try to make this bill better where it actually lowers premiums," Meadows told reporters. "That's why there's not enough votes, because at this point, the number one priority – the top priority, you can throw everything away – is driving premiums down. If we don't do that, we will have failed, and we must do that in order to be successful."

Why premiums would go up, explained by Meadows:

"If you take healthy people off and you keep all the mandates that are there...premiums will go up. I think in the short run, because of some of the other things that are in the bill, in the short run premiums could come down for a year. But over a ten-year period, I think premiums would go up, just the way this is structured."

What he wants: All of Obamacare's insurance regulations and market reforms to be repealed through the bill. This includes the pre-existing conditions protections — he says pre-existing conditions can be protected through different mechanisms — and the essential health benefits, which drive insurance costs up.

But how? The problem is that the Senate's rules about budget reconciliation, which is the method being used to repeal Obamacare without any Democrats, don't allow non-budgetary measures to be included in the legislation. But Meadows says he thinks there's a winning case to be made that these pieces of Obamacare do, in fact, impact the budget and thus can be included.

Go deeper

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Axios AM Deep Dive: America’s murder surge

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Homicides rose at the fastest rate in at least six decades last year. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by Future correspondent Bryan Walsh, looks at the state of gun crime.