GOP lawmakers unveil ObamaCare replacement bill

GOP lawmakers unveil ObamaCare replacement bill
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Two Republican lawmakers on Thursday introduced an alternative to ObamaCare as the House develops its own healthcare plan.  

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The bill from Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) does not fully repeal ObamaCare, a notable departure from the GOP’s long-stated goal. 

But it would eliminate many central aspects of the Affordable Care Act, including the mandates for individuals to have coverage and for employers to provide it, as well as requirements for what an insurance plan must cover. 

The core of the plan is a $2,500 tax credit that any citizen would be eligible for and use to purchase health insurance. The lawmakers say this gives flexibility to people, whether they get employer-based insurance or not, to more directly control their healthcare spending, for example by using a health savings account. 

Sessions and Cassidy are putting forward their plan as a task force set up by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees House Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids MORE (R-Wis.) is nearing the release of its own plan to fully repeal ObamaCare and replace it with an alternative. 

Sessions, the chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, said in an interview that his plan is not meant to compete with that effort. 

“Everybody's submitting their ideas, so it's very complimentary,” he said. 

The Ryan-backed task force, though, will not be releasing a bill; it will instead be a general outline of ideas. 

“The thing that makes us different is we made a bill out of it, and that's the hard part,” Sessions said. “It's really easy to have ideas. It's really hard to put it in a bill that works.”  

Under the Sessions-Cassidy plan, people currently with insurance through the ObamaCare marketplaces could keep it because they would be grandfathered in. 

But new ObamaCare enrollees would no longer be eligible for ObamaCare’s financial assistance. Instead, they would receive the new plan’s $2,500 tax credit, according to John Goodman, a health economist who worked with Sessions and Cassidy on the plan. 

The new tax credit is a flat sum, as opposed to ObamaCare’s tax credits, which increase for lower-income people. Therefore, Goodman said, lower-income people would receive less assistance under the Sessions-Cassidy plan, but higher-income people could receive more. 

Sessions defended the decision to allow current ObamaCare plans to be grandfathered in if people want to keep them.  

“I want to be fair about this,” he said. “If you want that, you ought to have it; I mean, we're in a world of options.”

The Sessions-Cassidy bill also shakes up the current system of not taxing health insurance plans provided through employers, which can be politically fraught. However, the plan allows employers to opt to stay in the current system if they want, and only opt in to the new tax credit if they choose.