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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

[Politics]Republicans just released big changes to their Obamacare replacement bill days before its most important vote yet

Chibueze Ogbonna     10:25 AM     No comments


House GOP members rolled out a large batch of changes to their American Health Care Act, the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The 7-page manager's amendment adds a number of key provisions to the AHCA designed to shore up support for the bill.
The move comes as House Speaker Paul Ryan, GOP leaders, and President Donald Trump's administration try and lock down the necessary votes for the bill to pass the House.
On the one side, the changes will shorten the timeline for the repeal of certain Obamacare provisions, pleasing conservatives.
Here's a rundown of the key changes:
  • Move up the date of the Obamacare taxes repeal. Taxes that help fund the credits — on everything to healthcare executives making over $500,000 to tanning beds — would be repealed a year ahead of the current AHCA timeframe, 2017 instead of 2018. This appears to be an appeal to conservative House Republicans who say that the law does not go far enough or quickly enough in its repeal of Obamacare.
  • Allow states to create work requirements for Medicaid. While 77% of Medicaid beneficaries are in households with a worker, Republicans have desired a provision that would allow states to mandate non-disabled people would have to be working in order to qualify for Medicaid.
  • Allow states to shift Medicaid funding to a block grant sytem. The current AHCA shifts funding for Medicaid expansion to per capita block grants, but the new provision would allow states to shift their funding for Medicaid to a simple block grant.
According to a press release by GOP leaders in charge of the amendment, it will also give the Senate the ability to expand tax credits for older Americans age 50 to 64.
"This change provides the Senate flexibility to potentially enhance the tax credit for those ages 50 to 64 who may need additional assistance," said a press release from the GOP leaders of the Energy & Commerce and Ways & Means committees.
Politico reported earlier on Monday that this relief for older Americans would come in a the form of a $75 billion pool of additional tax credits, but that exact provision does not appear in the actual amendment.
The current flat tax credit structure of the AHCA gives 50 to 59 year olds $3,500 annually to help pay for insurance and people 60 years old and above $4,000 annually. Analysis by health policy experts have shown this would lead to a signifcant increase in premiums costs compared to the Affordable Care Act's current tax credits.
The moves come as Trump's White House tries to wrangle conservative votes in the House and Ryan tried to convince moderate Republicans to get on board.
Mark Meadows, the head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said before the package of changes that he had enough votes to block the law.
The House Rules Committee will consider the AHCA on Wednesday and a full vote on the bill is expected in the House on Thursday.

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