WASHINGTON – House Republicans have released their long-awaited bill dismantling much of former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. The measure would roll back the government’s health care role and is expected to result in fewer people having insurance coverage.
House committees planned votes on the legislation Wednesday. That will launch perhaps the year’s defining battle in Congress, and GOP success is by no means assured because of internal divisions.
The plan would repeal the law’s fines on people who don’t purchase health insurance. Instead of the statute’s income-based premium subsidies, people would get tax credits based on age. The subsidies would phase out for higher-earning people.
Obama’s expansion of Medicaid to more lower-income people would continue until 2020. The bill would eventually change how the federal government helps finance that program.
House Republicans introduced their bill to repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate that also aims to maintain coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and allow children to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26.
The measure would restructure the country’s Medicaid program so that states receive a set amount of money from the federal government every year and offer individuals refundable tax credits to purchase health insurance, all of which experts have warned could result in millions of people losing access to insurance they received under the Affordable Care Act.
It also largely would keep Obamacare’s protections of those with pre-existing conditions, but allows insurers to charge higher premiums to those who let their coverage lapse.
Conservative and moderate Republicans have raised concerns about key provisions within the bill.
House and Senate conservatives have argued that refundable tax credits are little more than a new entitlement program and some Republicans from Medicaid-expansion states have said they would not support plans that could kick millions of people of the Medicaid rolls.
Bowing to pressure from the right, House leaders instituted an income cap on the tax credit to prevent wealthier Americans from claiming it.
Still, Republican leaders are committed to moving forward with major tenants of the legislation and are hoping that President Donald Trump and his administration can bring wavering members on board and get the bill across the finish line.
Monday, the bill was released without any Congressional Budget Office score, a sign that Republicans may be worried about the fallout once Americans understand how many people could be affected by changes in coverage.
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