WASHINGTON – House Republicans will take another crack at repealing Obamacare on Thursday in a high-stakes vote on legislation that would dramatically revamp the health care system and will serve as a major test for the GOP Congress and the Trump administration.
The Republican bill, hotly contested and highly controversial, was the subject of 11th-hour negotiations and last-minute sweeteners, as GOP leaders scrambled for enough votes to push it through the House and send it to the Senate.
The House bill would not fully repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act, but it would kill major elements of that Democratic law. For example, the American Health Care Act would nix the requirement that most Americans purchase insurance, but it would keep in place a provision allowing younger Americans to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26.
The Republican proposal would repeal the ACA’s tax credits, which are based on income and the cost of health insurance in their local market, and replace those with less generous tax credits based on age.
The most contentious element centers on how to deal with patients that have pre-existing conditions, such as cancer, asthma, or diabetes. The Affordable Care Act bars insurance companies from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions. The GOP bill would weaken that protection by allowing states to seek a waiver for insurance companies to charge people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums than other consumers.
In an effort to woo moderate Republicans who feared that would put insurance costs out of reach for many sick patients, GOP leaders and the White House agreed to include an extra $8 billion to help patients with existing health problems.