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.

Briefings

Health Brief: Sen. Schatz to Propose Medicaid ‘Public Option’

As Democrats engage in an intraparty debate on how to build on the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) is preparing to introduce a health care proposal that would give states the opportunity to offer a “buy-in” Medicaid option to all of their residents. The plan could serve as a more practical blueprint for Democrats than single-payer health care if the party is able to win congressional majorities in 2018 or 2020.

Health Brief: White House Says It Will Make August CSR Payments

The Trump administration said it would make key payments to insurers this month, despite threats from President Donald Trump to terminate them after Senate Republicans failed to pass a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Governors and Democrats have been urging Trump to continue the payments because insurers have said they would hike premiums or exit the exchanges without them.

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