House Republicans on Monday evening released the text of their long-awaited ObamaCare replacement bill, calling to eliminate the various taxes and penalties tied to the original legislation while still preserving certain patient protections.
Aiming to deliver on their signature campaign promise after several election cycles trying to reclaim control of Washington, majority Republicans unveiled what they call the American Health Care Act. The sweeping legislation would repeal ObamaCare’s taxes along with the so-called individual and employer mandates – which imposed fines for not buying and offering insurance, respectively.
It also would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies, replacing them with tax credits for consumers.
“We begin by repealing the awful taxes, the mandate penalties and the subsidies in ObamaCare,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, told Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier” in an exclusive interview.
Asked about some conservatives’ concerns that GOP leaders are merely pushing ‘ObamaCare Lite,’ Brady countered, “It is ObamaCare gone.”
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., told Fox News they also “are not pulling the rug out from under people.” Rather, he said Republicans want to restore power to the states and control costs in Medicaid and elsewhere.
“It’ll amount to the biggest entitlement reform, probably in at least the last 20 years,” he said.
The release of the bill touches off what is likely to be a contentious debate, not just with Democrats but within the Republican Party.
The first test for GOP leaders, who have been under heavy pressure ever since President Trump took office to release a bill, will be whether the text satisfies the influential conservative wing – which has the numbers to torpedo the legislation. But it is a balancing act, as moderate Republican lawmakers, as well as governors of both parties, also have warned against going too far in rolling back consumer protections and benefits.
While subsidies would be repealed in the new bill, they would be replaced by monthly tax credits. The credits, worth between $2,000 and $14,000 a year, could be used by low-and-middle-income families who don’t get work- or government-sponsored insurance to buy state-certified plans.
The credits would be based on age and family size, unlike the income-based version under ObamaCare.
Unclear is how many people might lose coverage under the new plan.
The legislation, meanwhile, would preserve protections for those with pre-existing conditions by prohibiting insurers from denying coverage or charging them more. It also would continue to allow young adults to stay on their parents’ plans up to age 26.
Further, the plan would call for a “transition” away from the current Medicaid expansion, which was used under the original law to cover millions more people. Republicans also say they’d give states $100 billion to design their own programs, while upping the amount of money families can contribute to so-called Health Savings Accounts.
Fox News is told the plan is to go to both the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees on Wednesday for “mark-up” sessions where they will craft a final version of the bill. The legislation would tentatively go before the House Budget Committee next week.
The hope is that the bill would hit the House floor the week after that — and the Senate before the Easter recess.