With conservative lawmakers in control of both the House and Senate, and with President Donald Trump in the White House, Americans are being told that big changes are coming to Medicare and Medicaid.
It’s starting with a rollback of a substantial amount of former President Barack Obama’s overreach — and Republicans are promising their plan will save most Americans where it counts: In their wallet.
For senior citizens and people not covered by employers or government agencies, a new health tax credit would be paid in advance, according to the new Republican plan. That means people with little or no tax liability would get an IRS check, which would be higher credit for seniors.
Top House Republicans unveiled the rough sketch of a massive health care overhaul to rank-and-file lawmakers Thursday at a closed-door meeting.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and other party leaders described a broad vision for voiding much of Obama’s 2010 statute and replacing it with conservative policies.
It features a revamped Medicaid program for the poor, tax breaks to help people pay doctors’ bills, and federally subsidized state pools to assist those with costly medical conditions in buying insurance.
Lawmakers called the ideas options, and many were controversial. One being pushed by Ryan and other leaders would replace the tax increases in Obama’s law with new levies on the value of some employer-provided health plans — a political no-fly zone for Republicans averse to tax boosts.
“You have to legislate with a sense of political reality,” said Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, who mentioned backing that proposal “would set up an ad against you from multiple directions” during upcoming elections.
Many Republicans took an upbeat tone after Thursday’s meeting, with New York Rep. Peter King saying, “We’re only 27 days into the new administration, so we have time.”
Obama’s law levied a stunning $1.1 trillion in taxes over a decade to finance it’s expanded bureaucracy. GOP leaders said most of those taxes could be repealed, with the revenue replaced by a new tax on health care that employees receive at work. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady told reporters “the vast, vast majority of Americans” would be unaffected.
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Their plan will roll back Obama’s extend coverage of Medicaid –and would return that federal money to the states for their use. In a compromise aimed at resolving a bitter dispute, this extra Medicaid money would instead flow to the 31 states that accepted that Obama expansion and the 19 that didn’t.
After that, states would get far more discretion to decide who would be covered by Medicaid. They’d also decide whether to receive federal Medicaid funds based on the fluctuating numbers of the program’s beneficiaries or a set annual amount.
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The tax penalties Obama’s law levies on people who don’t buy insurance would be abolished, as would federal subsidies for most people buying coverage on the online exchanges the statute established. They would be replaced by tax credits for people who don’t have job or government-provided health coverage and tax-advantaged health savings accounts.
Republicans said decisions on amounts have not been made.
The Associated Press contributed to this article