As GOP Introduces Obamacare Replacement, Conservatives Balk: ‘We’ve Got to Do Better’

By Susan Jones | March 7, 2017 | 6:56am EST
Congressional Republicans turn their attention to health care reform this week. (AP File Photo)

( - House Republicans introduced their Obamacare repeal-and-replacement bill on Monday, promising that the 123-page American Health Care Act will create "universal access to quality, affordable health care."

"It will help create more choices, lower costs, and give back control to individuals and families. It will move decisions away from Washington and into state programs, doctors’ offices, and family living rooms," said a statement issued by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

But some conservative Republicans are not sold on the plan because it creates a new entitlement in the form of refundable tax credits; and it brings back the Cadillac tax on high value health insurance offered by employers in eight years.

At least the bill can be amended, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a member of the House Freedom Caucus, told Fox News’s Sean Hannity Monday night.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that some of the taxes that were in the initial version have been eliminated and so we can applaud that. But we don’t really get rid of the Cadillac tax altogether – it’s still in there, it just comes back in, in eight years.


“And so we really need to look at some amendments, make sure that we get rid of the taxes. We put something on president Obama's desk just a few months ago, and to suggest that what we put on President Trump's desk sets a new entitlement, keeps some taxes, doesn’t repeal all of Obamacare – we’ve got to do better and hopefully, with some amendments, we can do that.”

Meadows said his biggest concern is whether the Republican bill will lower health care costs and premiums. “And  until we get that answer, we’ve got to hold out judgment.”

Hannity noted there are some good things in the bill, such as blocking taxpayer funds for abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), also appearing on Hannity’s show, said he’s already heard complaints from constituents that the bill creates another entitlement program: “We are calling it tax credits that we actually send people checks. And I guess it’s another way to do the subsidy.”

The bill provides a monthly tax credit – between $2,000 and $14,000 a year – for low- and middle-income people who don’t get insurance through their jobs or the government. (Unlike Obamacare’s tax credit subsidies, the Republican tax credits are based on age and family size and will gradually phase out as one’s income increases.)

Gohmert, like Meadows, said he’d rather bring health care prices down so that more people can afford insurance.

The Republican plan also:

-- Repeals both the individual and employer mandates, but it does encourage "continuous health insurance coverage" by increasing the monthly premium rate by 30 percent for people who allow their health insurance to lapse, then later re-enroll.

-- Repeals the limit on how much people can contribute to their flexible health savings accounts.

-- Bars health insurers from denying coverage or charging more based on patients’ pre-existing conditions.

-- Allows young adults to remain on their parents’ plans until they are 26.

-- Establishes a “Patient and State Stability Fund,” which provides states with $100 billion to design programs that meet the “unique needs” of their patient populations and help low-income Americans afford health care.

-- Creates a new, competitive, state-based private insurance marketplace.

Republicans have put the bill’s text online for Americans to review, and they expect various House committees to mark up their respective parts of the bill this week. That includes offering amendments.

“Then we send our final products over to the Budget Committee to put together and send to the floor for a House vote,” a Republican fact sheet said.

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