GOP leaders unveil changes to healthcare bill

House Republican leaders on Monday night released a set of changes to their ObamaCare replacement plan as they seek to win more votes for the legislation. 

The changes include two measures that conservative Republican Study Committee members won at the White House on Friday: allowing states to require Medicaid recipients to work and allowing states to choose a Medicaid block grant over the cap system in the current bill. 

The revisions also include a change targeted at New York state that is expected to bring on board several wavering Empire State Republicans. That change would cut off federal Medicaid reimbursements for county contributions to Medicaid.

New York Republican lawmakers argue this will relieve counties from having to pay into Medicaid and lead to property-tax relief for constituents. But Democrats are already labeling that change as a “backroom amendment.”

{mosads}The House changes — which come in the form of a manager’s amendment — also contain nods to calls from lawmakers to increase tax credits for older people to address projected cost spikes under the GOP bill, without actually making that change. Instead, the House bill would enact a different placeholder provision to increase a medical tax deduction, with roughly the same cost, $85 billion over 10 years.  

House lawmakers say they then expect the Senate will actually codify the change to increase tax credits for people between the ages of 50 and 64. 

It is in doubt whether this range of changes will be enough to win the simple majority needed for the bill to pass on Thursday. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said Monday night that given his understanding of the changes, not enough was altered to bring him and his colleagues on board. 

But the House committee chairmen who helped lead the efforts to write the bill, known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), expressed confidence.

“We’re confident these changes will set AHCA up for success in the House,” Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said in a statement. “We look forward to working with our Senate colleagues to get this bill over the finish line and send it to the President as quickly as possible.”

And House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said: “With this amendment, we accelerate tax relief, give states additional options to spend health care dollars how they choose, strengthen what were already substantial pro-life protections, and ensure there are necessary resources to help older Americans and the disabled.

“With the president’s leadership and support for this historic legislation, we are now one step closer to keeping our promise to the American people and ending the Obamacare nightmare.”

On Tuesday morning, the president will visit Capitol Hill in an attempt to seal House Republican support for the plan.

Other changes in the bill include moving up the repeal of ObamaCare taxes to this year instead of next, another conservative request. 

The growth rate in the new spending cap put on Medicaid would also be slightly increased to give more funding for elderly and disabled people. 

Still, the overall structure of the bill remains the same after these changes.  

Tags Kevin Brady Paul Ryan
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