House GOP Obamacare repeal/replacement eliminates federal subsid - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

House GOP Obamacare repeal/replacement eliminates federal subsidies, insurance mandate

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MADISON (WKOW) -- House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) promised Thursday to roll out an Affordable Care Act repeal and replacement plan when Congress returns from it's week-long recess for President's Day (February 20-24).

"Patients and doctors should be making the big decisions and not government bureaucrats. Step by step, this is what our plan to repeal and replace Obamacare will do," said Speaker Ryan. "We look forward to making progress in the coming weeks and keeping our promise to the American people."

Speaker Ryan spoke in broad strokes without offering many details about the plan at his weekly news conference, but 27 News obtained a copy of the 19-page policy brief Ryan and other House GOP leaders reviewed in a closed-door meeting Thursday.

As part of the repeal, Americans would no longer be required to purchase health insurance.

The plan also calls for eliminating all taxes related to Obamacare and ending the health insurance exchanges people now use to purchase ACA plans.

The federal income-based subsidies given to Americans who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid - but not enough to pay the full-cost of ACA plans - will also go away.

In place of the subsidies, the federal government would offer refundable tax credits. But those credits would be based on age instead of income and would not be available to people who can purchase insurance through their employer.

That is a key difference from the Affordable Care Act, where people can get subsidies to pay for insurance plans offered on the exchanges even if their employer offers insurance.

The House GOP plan also seeks to provide "State Innovation Grants" so states can establish insurance pools for high-risk consumers with preexisting conditions.

The grants could be used to establish something similar to the Health Insurance Risk Sharing Plan (HIRSP) Wisconsin had in place prior to Obamacare taking effect.

The goal is to reduce out-of-pocket costs like co-payments, premiums and deductibles for people who have more health coverage needs.

"Some may suggest State Innovation Grants would lead to enrollment caps or waiting lists - like certain high risk pools functioned prior to Obamacare. This is false. These new and innovative State Innovation Grants are designed to help vulnerable patients. Why would anyone allow them to potentially harm the very patients they are intended to help?," reads the policy brief.

On Medicaid, House Republicans plan to eliminate the expansion that provided states with additional funds to insure anyone who earns up to 138 percent of the federal poverty limit (FPL). It would still cover people at 100 percent of the FPL or below, but cycle the others off into "other coverage sources naturally."

That change would not impact Wisconsin. Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) rejected the Medicaid expansion and has covered all adults at 100 percent or below FPL since the ACA took effect.

Finally, the plan would allow people to put more money into Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). The current limit of $3,400 per year for an individual would be nearly doubled to $6,500. Family limits would increase from $6,750 to $13,100.

The policy brief does not contain any information about how much the new plan would cost or how to pay for it.

Speaker Ryan said Thursday he is still waiting on cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation.

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