The GOP bill that would potentially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will be taken up by two U.S. House committees on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett said Monday.
“On Wednesday morning, I believe that both the House Ways and Means Committee on which I serve and the House Energy and Commerce Committee will begin consideration, with eventual approval, of a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act,” Doggett told the Tribune during a visit to the Texas Capitol.
Republicans released new legislation Monday evening that effectively repeals Obamacare and introduces a health care payment system based on monthly tax credits. The credit amounts depend on a person’s age, with individuals over the age of 60 receiving $4,000 a year, the maximum amount.
Under the new bill, federal funds will used to expand Medicaid will be suspended by 2020 and people will no longer have to be on an insurance plan.
The controversial bill, a campaign promise of President Donald Trump, has been kept under wraps by Republican members of Congress. It would undo President Barack Obama's signature health law, dubbed Obamacare, and would potentially offer a replacement plan. A draft leaked by Politico last week caused an uproar in Washington from both Republicans and Democrats.
Doggett said that by keeping the bill hidden, Republicans are making it hard for Democrats to draft amendments. He said House Democrats will have about 24 hours to review the bill, which he said is not enough time for them to get “objective, outside groups” to analyze the bill and suggest amendments.
The bill, Doggett said, may see backlash from House members on both sides of the aisle. Republican representatives such as Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, who was blocked from seeing the bill, and Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, who supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act but wants no replacement, may object to the GOP’s new bill, Doggett said.
Democratic members of the House Ways and Means committee have requested that a White House official explain how the bill satisfies President Donald Trump’s health care proposals. They also asked for a health care expert to assess the bill’s impact and cost. Doggett said Republicans "have declined to do any of those things."
“There is no doubt there are many flaws within the Affordable Care Act that need to be corrected, but we're not being really given that opportunity,” Doggett said.
Leading Texas Republicans have repeatedly called for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act since its enactment, including Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Greg Abbott.
About 1.2 million Texans have received insurance under the program, and Texas representatives have received backlash from constituents who worry their insurance may disappear if Obamacare is repealed. Most recently, U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, was booed by hundreds of angry constituents during a town hall event in his district.
Earlier Monday, Doggett spoke at a Texas Capitol rally sponsored by Cover Texas Now, a coalition of health care organizations. Participants rallied against congressional proposals that could affect health care coverage, including the repeal of Obamacare and the Texas Senate's proposed budget, which would underfund Medicaid by $1.9 billion.
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