GOP unveils new ObamaCare alternative

Greg Nash

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Three top Republicans are pushing an alternative to ObamaCare that would scrap the law’s mandates while keeping the tax credits that help low-income people buy private insurance coverage.

An outline of the plan was made public late Wednesday by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.).

{mosads}The plan — released the same week that the House cast its first vote of the year to repeal ObamaCare — will compete with several other replacement options as the GOP tries to coalesce around a response to a looming Supreme Court decision that could dismantle the law.

Under the senators’ plan, individuals would no longer be required to buy healthcare coverage and employers would no longer be required to offer it. People who already have government insurance through Medicaid would be given tax credits to buy private plans, and upper-income families would no longer qualify for financial help.

“Under our plan, every American will be able to access a health plan, but no American is forced to have health insurance they do not want,” according to the members’ nine-page document, which mirrors proposals that were already offered by Hatch, Upton and Burr in early 2014.

It would give back much of the healthcare regulatory power to states while also setting certain federal baselines, such as capping healthcare taxes for employees.

It would also keep two of the most popular provisions of ObamaCare: the protections for people with preexisting conditions and the rule that allows young adults to say on their parent’s plans until age 26.

“We agree we can’t return to the status quo of the pre-ObamaCare world, so we equip patients with tools that will drive down costs while also ensuring those with pre-existing conditions and the young are protected,” Hatch wrote in a statement.

Still, the plan is short on details about how it would help the rest of the 10 million people who have purchased ObamaCare plans make the transition away from the government program.

Pressure has also been building for the GOP to devise a strategy now that the party controls both chambers of Congress.

The Republican leaders announced their plan the same week that the House voted to repeal ObamaCare and charge committee chairmen with crafting an alternative plan. Three GOP lawmakers bucked the party during the vote, opting to keep ObamaCare.

“I need to see how we’re gonna fix this and not just be someone who votes for the 56th time to repeal this,” Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine) told CQ Roll Call after the vote.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has pushed back against criticism that the Republican Party lacks a plan to replace ObamaCare, vowing one will be coming.

“There will be an alternative, and you will get to see it,” Boehner told Fox News’s Bret Baier last week.

He added that leaders of the three House committees that oversee healthcare policy are currently “working together to craft, what we believe, what would be a better approach with regard to healthcare for the American people.” 

Tags Boehner John Boehner ObamaCare Orrin Hatch Richard Burr
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