House GOP Considers Changes to Health-Care Bill

by Alexandra DeSanctis

On Fox News yesterday, Paul Ryan said that House GOP members are working to improve the American Health Care Act ahead of an expected vote on the measure on Thursday. Among the many criticisms levied against the bill, some are concerned that it doesn’t do enough to protect seniors and low-income Americans from rising health-care costs.

As the ACHA stands, it seems that some seniors could be left without adequate care, because the bill’s tax-credit structure won’t provide as much coverage as the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) subsidies currently do. And because the ACA restricted insurers’ ability to “age-rate” — or charge much higher premiums for older individuals — repealing the bill will cause an initial increase in premiums for low-income seniors not yet on Medicare.

The changes that House GOP members are working on this week are expected to address these concerns by providing more generous tax credits for older, low-income Americans, so that they won’t lose care once the Obamacare subsidies are repealed.

“We think we should be offering even more assistance than the bill currently does,” Ryan said yesterday of the bill’s proposed tax-credit structure. He also noted that the revisions will likely allow for federal block grants to states for Medicaid and permit states to add a work requirement for Medicaid recipients.

While Ryan is optimistic about the bill’s prospects in the House, Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows reported yesterday that there remain 40 GOP representatives who will not vote for the bill in its current form. In order for it to pass the House, there can be no more than 21 Republican “no” votes.

Meadows said, in particular, that the optional work requirement for Medicaid does not go far enough, calling it “a step backwards.” Over the weekend, Meadows met with President Donald Trump to discuss conservative members’ qualms with the bill. Trump also met with Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, two GOP senators who oppose the ACHA.

“I cannot vote for any bill that keeps premiums rising,” Cruz said on Face the Nation yesterday.

Even if these revisions somehow manage to propel the ACHA through the House, it is unlikely that the bill will pass in the Senate in its current form. There are several GOP senators opposed to the bill, some of whom want a clean repeal of Obamacare, and other more moderate Republicans who fear that the repeal could hurt low-income Americans.

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