Ryan: ObamaCare replacement bill still needs work, but likely to pass soon

Andrew Cummings
March 20, 2017

"We think we should be offering even more assistance than the bill now does", for lower-income people age 50 to 64, Ryan said of the tax credits for health insurance that are proposed in the legislation. "He's the one who has helped to negotiate changes to this bill with members from all over our caucus". Ted Cruz of Texas said Sunday he wouldn't vote for it as is.

Republicans remain deeply divided over their US healthcare overhaul, which is President Donald Trump's first major legislative initiative and aims to fulfill his campaign pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare, the healthcare program of his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

"I can not vote for any bill that keeps premiums rising", Cruz said, echoing the concerns of other hard-line lawmakers who want the legislation to undo more of the Affordable Care Act's insurance mandates.

Thursday will mark the seventh anniversary of when President Barack Obama signed his health overhaul into law, one of his milestone achievements enacted over unanimous GOP opposition. The bill is expected to raise the average premiums before 2020, and then lower them after that, the CBO projected. In the second phase, Tom Price, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, would have the regulatory flexibility that the legislature wouldn't necessarily have to change many components of Obamacare.

The changes would allow states to impose work requirements on able-bodied people in the program, and let governors accept a block grant of federal funding for the program instead of a per-capita allotment.

But underscoring the push-pull problem GOP leaders face in winning votes, moderates feel the tax credits are too stingy, especially for low earners and older people. It establishes "more federalism" because it creates state-based, high-risk pools (with some federal funds) with the goal of keeping premiums down.

But, any changes made to the bill to win the votes of conservatives could scare off moderate Republicans. But he acknowledged that the GOP bill would probably have to change. "Now that we have our score we can make some necessary improvements and refinements to the bill", he said.

The GOP bill as now written offers a fixed tax credit for low- and middle-income Americans that rises by age. Cotton agreed with Cruz during an interview on CNN that the House bill will not bring down premiums for people seeking coverage in the private health insurance market.

The plan undermines Medicaid. Votes House Speaker Paul Ryan needs to pass the bill.

A Congressional Budget Office analysis last week said a 64-year-old with income of $26,500 would pay $1,700 out of pocket for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, compared with $14,600 under the GOP plan. "They're going to repeal part of it and leave in place all of the stuff that causes your insurance rates to go through the roof", Paul said. "You have to stop them". "We're making fine-tuning improvements to the bill to reflect people's concerns, to reflect peoples' improvements".

As he has said since introducing the bill earlier this month, Ryan expressed confidence Sunday about having the requisite 218 votes in the GOP-controlled House to send the bill to the GOP-controlled Senate. He cited Trump's hands-on involvement as a key factor is moving the legislation forward. The vice president added he's aware of concerns with the plan, but he reassured people the administration is listening and working with Congress to improve the proposal.

"I'm very impressed with how the president is helping us close this bill ... getting the votes", Ryan said. "We have conservative groups, other groups, everybody wants certain things".

Other reports by iNewsToday