House Republicans introduce Obamacare replacement legislation

After years of lambasting the Affordable Care Act, congressional Republicans have finally unveiled a new national healthcare plan they hope will “repeal and replace” the current law popularly known as Obamacare.

The plan, which was released Monday night by the both the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees, keeps some popular Obamacare provisions, but also scraps many key aspects of the law. According to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, the plan embodies states’ rights.

“Our legislation transfers power from Washington back to the states,” Brady said in a statement. “We dismantle Obamacare’s damaging taxes and mandates so states can deliver quality affordable options.”

The new law would immediately end the individual mandate requirement that forces citizens to have some form of healthcare or be subjected to a penalty. The plan would also reduce the amount of income subsidies available for low-income Americans, and end former President Obama’s Medicaid expansion by 2020.

The proposal would also make it illegal for individuals on Medicaid to use Planned Parenthood’s services, essentially defunding the organization. Republicans say this will reduce the amount of abortions performed at clinics across the country, however federal money not allowed to be used for abortion services.  Medicaid individuals are currently eligible to use their coverage to access Planned Parenthood’s other services such birth control and preventative cancer screenings.

Democrats were quick to criticize the plans’ potential effects on low-income citizens. 

“Trumpcare doesn’t replace the Affordable Care Act, it forces millions of Americans to pay more for less care,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Critics of the plan include not only Democrats, but a surprisingly large number of Republicans as well. For some members of the Freedom Caucus and ultra-conservative GOP members, the new legislation does not go far enough. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) labeled one of the plan’s revisions as “Obamacare Lite.” In a tweet, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) called the plan “ObamaCare 2.0.”

However, on the flip-side, some GOP senators seemed concerned about the rollback of Medicaid. In a letter, Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) warned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) against cutting off the program.

“We will not support a plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states,” the letter read.

As with all legislation, a final proposal will end up being a compromise, even when factoring out the Democrats. It is likely that there will be many unhappy conservative Republican legislators. What is unlikely is that passing a “repeal and replace” healthcare law will go smoothly.


[NPR] [Reuters] [Washington Post] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy]