McConnell: GOP Plan Is ‘Dramatic Improvement’; Schumer: No to ‘Trumpcare’

By Susan Jones | March 8, 2017 | 5:33am EST
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, flanked by fellow Republicans, discusses the Republican health care plan at a news conference on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. (Screen grab from C-SPAN)

( – "Even if Hillary Clinton had been elected -- even if Chuck Schumer were the majority leader, we'd be revisiting Obamacare,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told a news conference on Tuesday.

And even though conservatives oppose the GOP’s repeal-and-replace bill, McConnell said Republicans have “all come together behind a proposal that we're confident will be a dramatic improvement over the status quo.”

Democrats, already calling the plan “Trumpcare,” are shooting down the plan with their familiar takes-from-the-poor, gives-to-the-rich criticism.

McConnell said he hopes and expects the Senate to receive a House-passed bill in the next few weeks:

“If so, it will be on the agenda here in the Senate before the April recess, in all likelihood the week before the final week when we will be turning to the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Gorsuch.”

The Republican bill eliminates mandates, taxes, and the penalties associated with Obamacare.

A reporter asked McConnell, “How are you telling your members that this bill will be paid for?”

“Well, it just got launched yesterday,” McConnell said. “We're going to get the (CBO) score here before the end of the week. The House will be dealing with it first. We're going to have plenty of time to look at it. It's going to go through the regular order, unlike, as was pointed out earlier, the way Obamacare was developed here.

McConnell concluded, “There's going to be ample time to take a look at it.”

Senate Democrats, at their Tuesday press conference, said they will fight the Republican bill “tooth and nail.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer outlined the Democrats’ objections:

“First, Trumpcare means higher costs for less healthcare, plain and simple. It means higher costs because the tax credits are far less generous than under the Affordable Care Act. It means less healthcare because Medicaid is cut and capped and insurance companies can provide less coverage.

“Second, Trumpcare cuts taxes on the very wealthy while forcing average Americans to pay more. Premiums are going to go up. But Americans making over $250,000 will get a big tax break.

(The Republican plan eliminates the Medicare tax imposed on wealthy people’s investment income, and it repeals Obamacare’s tax surcharge on high earners.)

Schumer also complained that the Republican plan “raises costs on older Americans and provides less assistance to help them afford the care they need.

“Seniors could be stuck with only $4,000 in tax credits to help them afford medical care. They'll live one accident or illness away from financial ruin. And because it cuts the Medicare trust fund, Medicare will run out of money now in 2025. Not very long away, not very comforting for an elderly person in a nursing home or for their kids who might have to help support them.”

Democrats also opposed the defunding of Planned Parenthood, describing that as “one of the biggest assaults on women's health.”

A reporter asked Schumer why Democrats don’t outline their own plan to fix Obamacare, “so that Americans can compare” the Democrat and Republican plans.

His (non)response: “Well, we have said repeatedly if President Trump and Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan will say that they have given up on repeal, we'd love to work with them to improve ACA. They haven't done that. And once you repeal large sections of the ACA, you run into the kinds of trouble we've outlined before.”

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