Republicans Get Specific On Health Care Reform, But Lack Consensus In Key Areas

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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House Republicans left for their one-week President’s Day recess equipped with an extensive list of health care reform talking points, but GOP lawmakers still lack a consensus on how to best move forward on a number of key provisions.

While more specifics have been provided for members to tell their constituents at town hall meetings, a number of details still need to be worked out.

The conference met with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price Thursday morning to discuss options, where it was established parts of the replacement plan would be attached to the reconciliation bill being used to repeal former President Barack Obama’s landmark health care legislation.

The outline calls for tax credits for those purchasing insurance who don’t qualify for coverage elsewhere, Medicaid reform and the expansion of Health Savings Accounts, but lacks specifics on  how they plan to pay for it.

“Our proposal provides all Americans access to a portable, monthly tax credit that they can use to buy a health insurance plan that’s right for them—not one tied to a job or a government-mandated program,” a memo given to members reads. “Our proposal is based on age, so as individuals’ health needs evolve over time, so will their monthly, portable tax credit. It can travel with them from job to job, state to state, home to start a business or raise a family, and even into retirement.”

Proponents hope by indexing the credits by age, they will be able to drive down costs by incentivizing young, healthy people to buy insurance without a mandate.

But a number of conservatives are concerned the credits could be costly, saying they need to see the cost analysis by the Congressional Budget Office before they can decide whether they will support the measure. A number of members are also concerned about capping the employer tax exclusion.

“I don’t like the refundable tax credit,” Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida told Bloomberg. “I don’t want people getting money back. This is Obamacare light.”

Medicaid reform is another sticking point for members who are attempting to figure out how to best proceed with changes.

The outline suggests financing with either a per capita allotment or block grants — temporarily providing the heightened funds provided during Medicaid expansion encouraged during the Obama administration through the transition period. The proposal would essentially halt enrollment in expansion states.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Thursday legislation will be introduced shortly after recess.

The House Committee on Ways and Means and House Committee on Energy and Commerce will be tasked with marking up the plan.

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