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The bills must address concerns of both conservatives worried about the cost of the overhaul and worries that it might in effect enshrine a new federal entitlement, as well as more moderate members who want to ensure that their constituents retain access to affordable health care, including those who received Medicaid coverage under the ACA.
Even so, signs emerged on Monday that Republicans in Congress’s upper chamber could balk either at the cost of the proposal or if it leaves swaths of the country without insurance coverage.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), one of at least three conservative senators who opposes the plan to provide income-based tax credits, tweeted: “Still have not seen an official version of the House Obamacare replacement bill, but from media reports this sure looks like Obamacare Lite!”
And four key Republican senators, all from states that opted to expand Medicaid under the ACA, said they would oppose any new plan that would leave millions of Americans uninsured.
“We will not support a plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states,” Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
The four senators were split on exactly what proposals would meet their standards, but with 52 Republicans, McConnell would not have enough votes to pass repeal without the support of at least two of them.
Democrats, meanwhile, have given no indication that they intend to work with Republicans, and top party leaders decried the GOP plan Monday as a betrayal of everyday Americans. “Trumpcare doesn’t replace the Affordable Care Act, it forces millions of Americans to pay more for less care,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).
In particular, the plan to target Planned Parenthood has already generated fierce pushback from Democrats and doubts from some Republicans who have noted that federal funds are already barred from funding abortions and that Planned Parenthood provides routine medical care to millions of American women.
The tax credits outlined by the Ways and Means Committee’s portion of the legislation incorporate an approach that Republicans have long criticized: income-based aid to help Americans afford health coverage.
Until now, the GOP had been intending to veer away from the ACA subsidies that help poor and middle-class people obtain insurance, insisting that the size of tax credits with which they planned to replace the subsidies should be based entirely on people’s ages and not their incomes. But the drafts issued Monday proposed refundable tax credits that would hinge on earnings as well as age — providing bigger credits for older and poorer Americans.
This big pivot, developed by the Ways and Means Committee under the guidance of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), stems from a combination of problems that were arising with the idea of age-only credits that would have been available to any individual or family buying insurance on their own, no matter how affluent.