Wicker: GOP Obamacare Alternative Must Mind Those Currently Covered

The chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee said a GOP alternative to the Affordable Care Act must be mindful of those who currently have coverage through the law.

“Clearly we don’t want to do any harm to people in the system now,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said at a Wednesday news conference at the Republican National Committee. “We want to be mindful.”

Roughly 20 million people have gained health coverage under the law, a fact that complicates Republicans steps to crafting alternative legislation. It will be difficult politically for Republicans to pass a measure that does not offer a way for those people to maintain coverage, said Cynthia Cox, an associate director at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Most of those people have gained coverage because they live in one of the 31 states or D.C. that have opted to expand Medicaid. Others, for example, may have been unable to purchase health insurance because of a pre-existing condition.

While President-elect Donald Trump hasn’t offered many details about how he would seek to cover that number of individuals, House Republicans have proposed offering tax credits to help people afford coverage on the private market while also barring insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.


Washington Brief: Montana GOP Candidate in Today’s Special Election Charged With Assaulting Journalist

Greg Gianforte, the GOP candidate in a special House election in Montana, was charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly assaulting a journalist who was asking him about the recent Congressional Budget Office estimate of the American Health Care Act. Gianforte faces Democrat Rob Quist in today’s election to fill the seat left vacant by Ryan Zinke, who now serves as head of the Interior Department.

Health Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

The Senate GOP’s working group on health care is still discussing how to craft a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, but lawmakers are also focused on a short-term fix to stabilize the individual insurance markets next year. The fix needs to come before June 21, insurers’ deadline for deciding whether to participate in the exchanges for 2018.

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