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Republicans Tweak Health Bill, Boost Benefits to Older Americans
House GOP leaders are working on changes to their bill to overhaul the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, providing bigger tax credits for older Americans and adding a work requirement for the Medicaid program, according to a Reuters report. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) discussed the changes in an interview on the Fox News Sunday television program.
Ryan said Republican leaders still planned to bring the health care bill to a vote on the House floor on March 23.
“We think we should be offering even more assistance than the bill currently does” for lower-income people 50 to 64 years of age, Ryan said of the tax credits for health insurance that are proposed in the legislation.
Ryan also said Republicans were working on changes that would allow federal block grants to states for Medicaid and permit states to impose a work requirement for able-bodied Medicaid recipients.
President Donald Trump recently told reporters in a conversation aboard Air Force One that the effort to “sell” the GOP’s replacement plan was going well. He is set to meet with Ezekiel Emanuel, a health-policy adviser under Barack Obama who helped shape the PPACA, at the White House, along with Ryan and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
Although Ryan, in his interview, said he felt “very good” about the health bill’s prospects in the House, conservative Representative Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) told the C-Span Newsmakers program that there are currently 40 Republican “no” votes in the House. Republicans hold a majority in the chamber but cannot afford to have more than 21 defections for the measure to pass.
Even if the GOP’s health care bill passes the House, it still faces significant challenges in the Senate, according to Reuters.
Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, conservative Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) said the bill would not reduce premiums for people on the private insurance market. “It’s fixable, but it’s going to take a lot of work,” he remarked.
Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), considered to be a moderate, told NBC’s Meet the Press that coverage issues must also be dealt with, citing a report from the Congressional Budget Office that said 14 million people would lose their health coverage under the House bill over the next year and 24 million over the next decade.
Sources: Reuters; March 20, 2017; and Fox News Sunday Transcript; March 19, 2017.