There remains division within the GOP over legislation that was introduced by Republicans yesterday that would replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. President Donald Trump and his top health official, however, praised the American Health Care Act on Tuesday even though there has been some pushback among conservatives, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). In addition, there are four other Republican senators who have expressed differences with the bill.
Trump issued a tweet in the morning that lauded "our wonderful new Healthcare Bill." Trump tweeted, “Our wonderful new Healthcare Bill is now out for review and negotiation. ObamaCare is a complete and total disaster - is imploding fast!”
Also on Tuesday, Health Secretary Tom Price wrote to the chairmen of the two House committees that wrote the bill, noting that "they align with the president's goal of rescuing Americans from the failures of the Affordable Care Act." The ACA was Barack Obama’s signal accomplishment. In his letter, Price praised the GOP for providing millions of Americans with a refundable tax credit, which means that even people without tax liability would receive the assistance.
Congressional conservatives have opposed a refundable credit, saying it would create a new entitlement program the government cannot afford. "It is a missed opportunity and a step in the wrong direction," said Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). He said he is not convinced that the bill would make health care more affordable. Conservative organizations such as Heritage Action for America and the Club for Growth, were also critical. Club for Growth President David McIntosh called the measure a "warmed-over substitute for government-run health care."
"As Republicans we have a choice," House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, an author of the measure, told reporters. "We can act now or we can keep fiddling around and squander this opportunity to repeal 'Obamacare.'"
Some liberal Republicans may balk at the one-year ban on federal payments to abortion-provider Planned Parenthood, which has long been opposed by conservatives. Also, conservatives were able to prevent House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) from adding a first-ever tax on the most generous employer-provided health plans. Instead, a similar tax imposed by Obamacare on expensive plans that was set to take effect in 2020 will now begin in 2025. Republicans have not yet received an estimate of the bill's overall cost or the number of people it would cover from the Congressional Budget Office.
The bill would affect the approximately 20 million people who purchase their own private health plans directly from an insurer, and the more than 70 million covered by Medicaid: the federal-state program for low-income people.
Congress' nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the bill will cut more than 20 taxes imposed by Obamacare at a cost of nearly $600 billion over a decade.