Conservative Republicans unveil latest ObamaCare replacement plan

Conservative Republicans unveil latest ObamaCare replacement plan
© Greg Nash

House conservatives on Tuesday released the first part of their latest health care plan, wading headfirst into the fraught political fight on overhauling the nation’s health system.

Members of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) said they understand that health care has been a third rail for the GOP in recent years, but they are hoping this plan, combined with a push from the White House, will help lead the party back to a House majority in 2020. 

During a press conference Tuesday, RSC Chairman Mike JohnsonJames (Mike) Michael JohnsonTop conservatives pen letter to Trump with concerns on fourth coronavirus relief bill Lawmakers ask Trump administration to help Gulf oil and gas producers Roberts wrestles with abortion law in high-stakes Louisiana case MORE (R-La.) said he knows health care is a “field full of political landmines,” but “that's not a great concern to us. What we're concerned about is doing the right thing for the American people.”

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Democrats took control of the House in 2018 in part by attacking Republicans for trying to repeal ObamaCare and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. In an interview with The Hill ahead of the plan’s rollout, Rep. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallOn the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Kobach says he discussed his Senate bid with Trump Senate Democrats outraise Republicans, but GOP has cash edge MORE (R-Kan.), chairman of the RSC health care task force and a candidate for the Senate, said he believes health care can be a winning issue for the GOP in 2020. 

“I think that health care is going to create our majority. I think that we're going to get the majority back in the House, we're going to keep the Senate majority, we're going to win the presidency because of health care,” Marshall said.

“I think 2020 is all about health care, and then Americans have very much a binary choice — the choice between government-controlled health care, or in the individual controlling their health, the individual and the patient,” he said.

RSC members said the plan is meant to be seen as an alternative to “Medicare for All” and other single-payer proposals currently being debated by Democratic presidential candidates. 

Johnson wouldn’t directly answer when asked if the plan was contingent on repealing ObamaCare, but it essentially rehashes many of the past Republican efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act. 

It takes money currently being spent on the law’s subsidies and instead establishes high-risk pools while also undoing states’ Medicaid expansions and enhanced Medicaid funding in favor of a block grant.

Members said the plan will ensure people with pre-existing conditions continue to be protected from discrimination.

However, the RSC plan would undo much of the health law’s coverage regulations. The plan would allow states to decide which “essential health benefits” to cover, remove the ban on annual and lifetime limits on covered benefits and would remove the law’s rules that plans cover certain preventive services for free. 

It would also allow for the expansion of health insurance ministries, which mimic certain types of coverage but are not actual insurance plans, and don’t always cover people when they need medical care. 

Johnson said President TrumpDonald John TrumpCampaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis Outgoing inspector general says Trump fired him for carrying out his 'legal obligations' Trump hits Illinois governor after criticism: 'I hear him complaining all the time' MORE and GOP leadership are both supportive of their efforts.

“We're going to put these ideas out there. We know there'll be some healthy debate and discussion, we look forward to that. But … people are counting on Congress to do this,” he said.