House GOP releases changes to AHCA

House GOP leadership announced amendments to the American Health Care Act, which are intended to woo some Republicans who are still on the fence over the Obamacare repeal bill.

The bevy of changes outlined in an amendment late Monday come ahead of a planned Thursday vote on the bill. Key committee leaders were enthusiastic about the changes, hoping it will lead to passage of the bill.

“Our legislation includes ideas from Republican members who are committed to improving healthcare for patients and families across the country,” said Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady in a statement. “We’re confident these changes will set AHCA up for success in the House. We look forward to working with our Senate colleagues to get this bill over the finish line and send it to the President as quickly as possible.”

As a result of discussions by the Ways and Means, Budget, and Energy and Commerce committees, each has added amendments that focus on committee-specific policies pertaining to the healthcare bill.

The changes are set to entice moderates and conservatives who have been skeptical of the bill.

Ways and Means added language to accelerate repealing Obamacare taxes to 2017, instead of 2018. It also improves cost deductions for the elderly, who would be able to deduct anything above 5.8 percent of their income, instead of the previous 10 percent threshold.

The committee also barred the use of taxpayer dollars, both through new tax credits and State Stability Funds, from being used for abortions or abortion coverage.

The Energy and Commerce committee gave states additional flexibility regarding how governors choose to administer Medicaid. States would be able to opt out of their per capita allotment baseline and receive funding through a federal block grant.

States would also be given flexibility when it comes to implementing sensible work requirements for able-bodied adults who receive Medicaid benefits.

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The annual inflation rate for elderly and disabled Medicaid recipients would increase to assist those populations with cost-of-living increases.

In addition, new states would no longer be able to opt into Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

In a major concession to GOP moderates, the House agreed to possibly enhance tax credits for people ages 50 to 64. But the House doesn’t divulge how much more it will give, just saying that it “provides the Senate flexibility to potentially enhance the tax credit.”

Moderates have been upset that seniors who aren’t old enough to get Medicare could wind up paying much more as insurers could charge seniors five times the amount they charge a younger person. Under Obamacare, insurers would only be able to charge three times the amount of a younger person.

Some of the changes, however, are more targeted. In a bid to sway moderates from New York, the amendment includes a provision that would cut off counties from having to pay Medicaid.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan said the changes will help get the bill passed in a vote on Thursday.

“With the president’s leadership and support for this historic legislation, we are now one step closer to keeping our promise to the American people and ending the Obamacare nightmare,” he said in a statement.

But the House Freedom Caucus hinted before the amendment was released that the changes wouldn’t be enough to get their support.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told reporters Monday night that he is confident the bill doesn’t have enough votes to pass.

This post originally appeared on Washington Examiner


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