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.
GOP success is by no means a slam dunk. In perhaps their riskiest political gamble, the plan is expected to cover fewer than the 20 million people insured under Obama’s overhaul, including many residents of states carried by President Donald Trump in November’s election.
Republicans said they don’t have official estimates on those figures yet. But aides from both parties and nonpartisan analysts have said they expect coverage numbers to be lower.
The plan would repeal the statute’s unpopular fines on people who don’t carry health insurance. It would replace income-based premium subsidies in the law with age-based ones that may not provide as much assistance to people with low incomes. The payments would phase out for higher-earning people.
Some of the popular provisions in the existing health care law, such as requiring plans to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26, will be preserved.
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.
More significantly, Republicans would overhaul the federal-state Medicaid program, changing its open-ended federal financing to a limit based on enrollment and costs in each state.
A series of tax increases on higher-earning people, the insurance industry and others used to finance the Obama overhaul’s coverage expansion would be repealed as of 2018.
In a last-minute change to satisfy conservative lawmakers, business and unions, Republicans dropped a plan pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to impose a first-ever tax on the most generous employer-provided health plans.
Markups on the bill are expected to begin this week in the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.