GOP unveils new plan to rip health care away from 12 million Americans

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A new Republican plan will end the Medicaid expansion, which extended health insurance to 12 million people.

Republicans unveiled their latest effort to get rid of the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday with a new health care plan that would dramatically impact millions of Americans.

The Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative Republicans, released a plan that would roll back many of the protections in the ACA, give block grants to states rather than subsidies for individuals buying health insurance, and eliminate the Medicaid expansion enshrined in the ACA, according to the Hill.

The Medicaid expansion helped more than 12 million people obtain health insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Since there is no legislative language, it is unclear how many — if any — of these 12 million Americans would be covered under the plan.

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"I think that health care is going to create our majority," Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS), chair of the committee, said when rolling out the new plan. "I think that we're going to get the majority back in the House, we're going to keep the Senate majority, we're going to win the presidency because of health care."

More than half of the plan — which is not legislation, but rather a 66-page document laying out priorities — attacks the ACA and proposals by Democrats such as Medicare for All, according to the Washington Post. The outline of a plan also calls for allowing states to decide which of the "essential health benefits" health insurance companies in their state must cover.

Current law mandates all insurance cover essential benefits such as prescription drug coverage, maternity care, and mental health care, any of which the Republican plan would allow states to take away.

Critics of the Republican plan were quick to speak out.

"House Democrats have been working to lower health care costs and improve access to quality care while Republicans are trying to undermine the Affordable Care Act and strip health coverage from millions of Americans," Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH) said in a statement. "Every plan the Republicans have put forward would hurt those living with preexisting conditions, low-income families who rely on Medicaid, and some of our nation’s most vulnerable Americans."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi also criticized the proposal, saying "their plan is an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, but it's really just an alternative to health care, period."

"This new GOP plan is nothing more than a rehash of their failed proposals that have been rejected in Congress and in voting booths across the country," Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, said in a statement. "After ten years of attempting to repeal the ACA without a viable replacement plan, you'd think they would have learned their lesson."

House Republicans tried to repeal the ACA in 2017, only to see their effort fail in the Senate. Health care was a major issue in the 2018 midterm that saw House Democrats win 40 seats and regain control of the chamber. Since then, Trump has supported Republican efforts to completely repeal the ACA through a lawsuit, which would eliminate health insurance for 20 million Americans.

In April, Trump declared that health care "will be a great campaign issue" in 2020, despite having no health care plan to present to Congress.

Democrats have already passed legislation in the House to address health care issues.

"In May, the House passed my legislation to nullify the Trump Administration's guidance allowing for the sale of junk health plans that don’t cover basic health services — the Protecting Americans With Preexisting Conditions Act," Kuster added. "This legislation joins dozens of other important bills that the House has passed to improve the lives of Americans, but that Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans refuse to bring to a vote."

In the end, Kuster called for Republicans to join with Democrats in supporting health care legislation that will help more Americans.

"After nearly a decade of failed attempts, it's time for Republicans to give up their efforts to sabotage the ACA and support legislation that will protect their constituents with preexisting conditions and lower health care costs," she said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.