The Latest: Kasich warns against Medicaid phase-out

AP News
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Posted: Mar 07, 2017 5:15 PM
The Latest: Kasich warns against Medicaid phase-out

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on new Republican legislation to replace the health care law (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sik) says phasing out Medicaid coverage without a viable alternative is "counterproductive" and potentially risky.

The Republican governor's tweet Tuesday comes in response to House Republicans' health care proposal.

Kasich, a frequent critic of GOP health care proposals, says he supports replacing the Affordable Care Act with "more conservative market-driven reforms" that work to control health-care costs, but the final fix must involve both Republicans and Democrats.

He says the proposed Medicaid phase-out "unnecessarily" risks the states' ability to treat "the drug-addicted, mentally ill and working poor who now have access to a stable source of care."

Kasich has been a leader among governors urging Congress to adopt an alternative that would change Medicaid from an open-ended federal entitlement to a program designed by each state within a financial limit.

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5:35 p.m.

A group of House Republicans say President Donald Trump is putting his "presidential weight" behind sweeping legislation to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's health care law.

Trump met Tuesday with the House Republicans who are responsible for rounding up votes in Congress.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas says Trump made very clear "this is his bill."

Brady's committee will start working on the legislation Wednesday.

North Carolina Congressman Patrick McHenry says the president made clear he wants them to pass the legislation.

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4:15 p.m.

Capitol Hill's most conservative lawmakers are criticizing a health care bill that's been endorsed by President Donald Trump, but some of them are stepping back from explicit threats to oppose it.

Rep. Louis Gohmert of Texas for instance says that as long as conservatives are afforded the opportunity to offer amendments to the legislation "we'll be OK." Gohmert met with Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday.

Other tea party Republicans appearing at a Tuesday afternoon news conference, like Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, still say they will oppose the measure.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio says the Trump-backed bill is "not what we promised the American people we would do" because it would for now leave in place Obamacare provisions such as expanding the Medicaid program for the poor.

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2:05 p.m.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price says the new House Republican health care legislation is a "work in progress" that represents a step in the "right direction."

Price says at the daily White House briefing that the administration's goal is to improve health care and coverage while reducing costs and making plans more affordable.

He says the bill is just one of three phases. He says the administration is also planning a regulatory overhaul and additional legislation to accomplish things that can't be done through the reconciliation process.

As for an early wave of opposition from conservative groups like Club for Growth, he says "this is the beginning of the process." He says the administration looks forward to working with the groups through this process.

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2 p.m.

The head of a major tea party group is blasting the House GOP health bill, saying it doesn't go far enough in repealing President Barack Obama's health law.

Jenny Beth Martin, president of Tea Party Patriots, said: "The bill that House Republicans released last night does not fully repeal Obamacare. Congressional Republicans must realize that Obamacare cannot be fixed because it is not fixable."

Martin noted that thousands of tea party activists fought against Obama's health law when it passed, and continued to fight against it as it was implemented.

Martin said, "This is not what we meant or expected when we voted for Congress to repeal Obamacare. Keep your promise to repeal Obamacare."

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1:25 p.m.

Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings says he's scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump to talk about how to lower prescription drug prices.

Cummings said in a statement Tuesday that he will be joined by Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont and Dr. Redonda Miller, the president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Cummings says the meeting is set for Wednesday.

The Maryland Democrat says he's looking forward to discussing ways of lowering skyrocketing prescription drug costs.

In late January, Cumming says the president called him to set up a meeting to talk about the issue.

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12:50 p.m.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer says the president is "absolutely committed" to the new House Republican health care legislation, as several conservative groups line up in opposition to the plan.

President Donald Trump earlier in the day praised the "wonderful new Healthcare Bill," adding that it is now "out for review and negotiation."

Conservative groups came out against the plan Tuesday.

Michael Needham, chief executive officer of Heritage Action for America, said in a statement that the proposal "not only accepts the flawed progressive premises of Obamacare but expands upon them."

Club for Growth president David McIntosh put out a statement saying: "The problems with this bill are not just what's in it, but also what's missing: namely, the critical free-market solution of selling health insurance across state lines."

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12:45 p.m.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia has joined three Republican colleagues in criticizing the House proposal to replace former President Barack Obama's health care law. They say they won't support a plan lacking stability for people enrolled in expanded Medicaid.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the four senators say the proposed replacement lacks needed flexibility for states.

Capito and Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska note that Medicaid covers 72 million people and it's "the core of the health safety net."

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12:30 p.m.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee is calling the new House GOP health care bill "a step in the wrong direction."

Lee has joined fellow Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas in questioning the House approach, objecting in particular to refundable tax credits.

Lee said the problem is: "We don't know how many people would use this new tax credit, we don't know how much it will cost, and we don't know if this bill will make health care more affordable for Americans."

Paul called the new bill "Obamacare Lite." Cruz said he was still studying the details but believes Congress should start with repeal.

The conservative Club For Growth said the legislation doesn't go far enough and called it "RyanCare," after House Speaker Paul Ryan.

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12:20 p.m.

The House GOP health bill would cut more than 20 taxes enacted under President Barack Obama's heath law. This would save taxpayers nearly $600 billion over the next decade — with the bulk of the money going to the wealthy.

The estimate does not include the cost of new tax credits to help people buy health insurance. Those estimates are not yet public.

The biggest tax cut would eliminate a 3.8 percent tax on investment income for high-income individuals and families. Congressional estimates show that eliminating the tax would save these taxpayers $158 billion over the next decade.

About 90 percent of the benefit from repealing the tax would go to the top 1 percent of earners, who make $700,000 or more, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center.

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11:25 a.m.

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady is dismissing conservative criticism of the House GOP's new plan to replace President Barack Obama's health law.

One of those conservative critics, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, called the plan "Obamacare Lite."

Refuting that description, Brady told reporters Tuesday at a news conference that the plan is "Obamacare gone."

Brady's committee will start considering the bill Wednesday, as will the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Brady and Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon held a news conference as they try to rally support for the legislation.

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11:00 a.m.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz says that the GOP's long-awaited health care plan may lead people to put aside money for their health care instead of "getting that new iPhone."

That's the Utah Republican's advice to consumers who are concerned about the changes to the health care system that may be on the way under the House GOP's long-awaited health care plan.

The plan puts more emphasis on health savings accounts at the expense of former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, which offers more generous subsidies of insurance premiums.

To make his point, on CNN's "New Day," Chaffetz advised consumers that instead of buying a new phone "maybe they should invest in their own health care."

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10:35 a.m.

One Republican senator is already rallying opposition to the House GOP's new plan to replace President Barack Obama's health law.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky calls the plan "Obamacare Lite."

Paul writes in an e-mail to supporters, "I'm afraid too many of my colleagues, especially in the House leadership, appear to be leaning toward an 'Obamacare Lite' approach. I won't stand for it. And neither should you."

Paul asks supporters to click on a link to his political action committee, Randpac, where they can sign a petition calling for a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

Oh, and the site also has a link for supporters to donate to the PAC.

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10:20 a.m.

The top Republican in the Senate is supporting the House bill to unravel the health care law, arguing that it can't be repaired and must be scrapped and replaced.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday on the Senate floor that the legislation is backed by the one person who can sign it into law — President Donald Trump.

The bill would limit future federal funding for Medicaid, which covers low-income people, about 1 in 5 Americans. And it would loosen rules that former President Barack Obama's law imposed for health plans directly purchased by individuals, while also scaling back insurance subsidies.

House panels plan to move ahead on the legislation on Wednesday.

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10:10 a.m.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is telling Speaker Paul Ryan that lawmakers "must not be asked to vote" on new GOP health care legislation without details on cost and how many people would be covered.

In a letter to Ryan Tuesday, Pelosi says that "the American people and members have the right to know the full impact of this legislation before any vote in committee or by the full House."

Two committees plan to start voting on House Republicans' new bill on Wednesday. But thus far there is not an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office of how much the bill will cost and how many people will have health coverage. Fewer people are expected to be covered under the House GOP bill compared to the Affordable Care Act.

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10 a.m.

Health Secretary Tom Price is calling the Republican health care plan a "necessary and important first step."

In a letter to Rep. Greg Walden and Rep. Kevin Brady on Tuesday, Price says the Republican proposal offers "patient-centric solutions." He says they will provide "affordable quality healthcare, promote innovation and offer peace of mind for those with pre-existing conditions."

Price says that all of President Donald Trump's plans cannot be achieved through this bill, such as selling insurance across state lines, lowering drug costs and "providing additional flexibility" in managing Medicaid. But he calls it an "important first step."

Price says the White House looks forward to working with lawmakers on the bill and ushering it to the president's desk.

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8:30 a.m.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says Republicans are underestimating the high costs of health care for people living with pre-existing medical conditions when discussing their new plan.

Pelosi tells "CBS This Morning" that coverage of people with pre-existing conditions can't be done easily and without ensuring healthy people also buy into insurance pools. Referring to insurance premiums for people with pre-existing conditions, she says, "we're not talking about something that is manageable."

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office hasn't yet determined the cost of the GOP legislation.

Pelosi also is rebutting GOP criticism that "Obamacare" is failing. She says premiums were soaring before the law took effect and that the Democratic plan helped to contain cost.

She says of President Donald Trump's criticisms of the law: "He doesn't even have the faintest idea of what he's talking about."

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7:50 a.m.

White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney says it's unfair to compare how many people would have health insurance under the new Republican plan to "Obamacare."

President Barack Obama's health care plan insured about 20 million people, including many residents of states carried by President Donald Trump in November's election.

Mulvaney told NBC's "Today Show": "What Obamacare did was make insurance affordable, but care impossible to actually afford. The deductibles were simply too high. So people could say they have coverage but they couldn't actually get the medical care they needed when they get sick."

Trump has promised in the past that his plan will "take care of everybody" by making "a deal" with hospitals. Mulvaney said Tuesday that "what people are getting here is access to coverage."

He predicted the bill would pass the House by Easter before going to the Senate.

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7:40 a.m.

White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney says that while the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office hasn't yet determined the cost of the new health care bill, he's sure it will bring "tremendous long-term savings" by giving states more control over Medicaid, the joint federal-state program for low income Americans.

The GOP bill keeps the health law's higher federal financing for expanded Medicaid through the end of 2019. After that, states can only continue to receive enhanced federal payments for beneficiaries already covered by the expansion. But for newly enrolled beneficiaries, the federal government would provide a lower level of financing.

Mulvaney told "CBS This Morning" the budget office has run its own numbers and is "absolutely convinced" the GOP plan will save the federal government money through savings on Medicaid spending and other innovations.

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3:30 a.m.

House Republican legislation overhauling the nation's health care law would limit future federal funding for Medicaid, which covers low-income people, about 1 in 5 Americans. And it would loosen rules that former President Barack Obama's law imposed for health plans directly purchased by individuals, while also scaling back insurance subsidies.

Republicans say their solutions would make Medicaid more cost-efficient without punishing the poor and disabled, while spurring private insurers to offer attractive products for the estimated 20 million consumers in the market for individual policies.

But Democrats say the bill would make many people uninsured, shifting costs to states and hospital systems that act as providers of last resort. Individual policy holders might be able to find low-premium plans, only to be exposed to higher deductibles and copayments.

House committees planned to begin voting on the legislation Wednesday.