House Votes For Measure To Replace Obamacare

St. Lousi Post Dispatch – The U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday for a measure aimed at undoing and replacing many elements of Obamacare. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had canceled a similar March vote on the health care bill because disgruntled conservatives said the measure was too meek while GOP moderates said its cuts were too deep.

He abandoned a second attempt for a vote last week. As late as Tuesday The Associated Press counted 21 GOP opponents — one short of the number that would kill the measure if all Democrats voted no.

Over the past few weeks, however, the measure was revamped to attract most hard-line conservatives and some GOP centrists. In a final tweak, leaders added a modest pool of money to help people with pre-existing medical conditions afford coverage, a concern that caused a near-fatal rebellion among Republicans in recent days.

The bill would eliminate tax penalties created under Obama’s law which had clamped down on people who don’t buy coverage and it erases tax increases in the Affordable Care Act on higher-earning people and the health industry. It cuts the Medicaid program for low-income people and lets states impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. It transforms Obama’s subsidies for millions buying insurance — largely based on people’s incomes and premium costs — into tax credits that rise with consumers’ ages.

It would retain Obama’s requirement that family policies cover grown children until age 26.

But states could get federal waivers freeing insurers from other Obama coverage requirements. With waivers, insurers could charge people with pre-existing illnesses far higher rates than healthy customers, boost prices for older consumers to whatever they wish and ignore the mandate that they cover specified services like pregnancy care.

The bill would block federal payments to Planned Parenthood for a year, considered a triumph by many anti-abortion Republicans.

GOP candidates including Trump have made repealing Obama’s statute an epitome of their campaign pledges, claiming it’s a failing system that’s leaving people with rising health care costs and less access to care.

Republicans will “gut Obamacare and rescue the American people,” said Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.

Democrats defended Obama’s law, one of his crowning domestic achievements, for expanding coverage to 20 million Americans and forcing insurers to offer more generous benefits. They said the GOP measure would toss millions off coverage while delivering tax cuts to the wealthy.

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