GOP Lawmakers Unveil Alternative To ACA

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, along with Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., on February 5 unveiled the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment (CARE) Bill, which would cap the exclusion for employer-provided health coverage, and provide a targeted tax credit to help buy health care.

Under the CARE Bill, there would be no mandate for individuals to buy health care coverage and employers would not be required to provide any. “Under our plan, every American will be able to access a health plan, but no American is forced to have health insurance they do not want,” stated the lawmakers in the outline of their plan.

The introduction of the bill comes just days after the House voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The House measure also instructs three House committees, including Ways and Means, to develop legislation to replace the health care law with new policies.

“Today, we offer a bold bicameral plan that fully repeals and replaces the healthcare law with reforms that empower patients – not Washington,” said Hatch. “We agree we can’t return to the status quo of the pre-Obama care world, so we equip patients with tools that will drive down costs while also ensuring those with pre-existing conditions and the young are protected.”

The plan is expected to lower health care costs by providing lower- and middle-income families with a refundable tax credit to purchase private health care coverage of their choice.

They would no longer be subject to an individual mandate or be limited to federally approved plans. Workers for small businesses would also be eligible. In addition, the plan would not allow a patient to be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition. “We create a new “continuous coverage protection,” and if you change your job and buy a plan on your own, we would provide protections so you could not be denied coverage or be forced to pay a higher premium because of a pre-existing condition,” said the lawmakers in an Op-Ed in USA Today.

The plan would also ban insurance companies from imposing lifetime limits on a consumer, and adopts age-rating changes, which lower costs for younger individuals and allows them to stay on their parents’ health plan up to age 26, unless a state chose otherwise. The proposal would reportedly cut more than $1 trillion in taxes and reduce federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars, according to the lawmakers. All of the ACA’s taxes would be scrapped, including the medical device tax, health insurance tax, pharmaceutical tax and other fees.

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