Republicans unveil bill to repeal and replace Obamacare
Bill would repeal Obamacare's individual mandate
House Republicans introduced their bill to repeal Obamacare's individual mandate that also aims to maintain coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and allow children to stay on their parents' plans until the age of 26.
The measure would offer individuals refundable tax credits to purchase health insurance and restructure the country's Medicaid program so that states receive a set amount of money from the federal government every year -- changes experts warn could result in millions of people losing access to insurance they received under the Affordable Care Act.
It also largely would keep Obamacare's protections of those with pre-existing conditions, but allows insurers to charge higher premiums to those who let their coverage lapse.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said Obamacare is "rapidly collapsing" and it is "time to turn the page."
"The American Health Care Act is a plan to drive down costs, encourage competition, and give every American access to quality, affordable health insurance. It protects young adults, patients with pre-existing conditions, and provides a stable transition so that no one has the rug pulled out from under them," Ryan said in a statement.
The measure sets up a political battle that could consume Congress for much of the year.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer praised the bill's release.
"Obamacare has proven to be a disaster with fewer options, inferior care, and skyrocketing costs that are crushing small business and families across America," Spicer said in a statement. "Today marks an important step toward restoring health care choices and affordability back to the American people. President Trump looks forward to working with both Chambers of Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare."
The two top Democrats on the two House committees that crafted the bill -- Reps. Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Richard Neal of Massachusetts -- railed on Republicans for writing the bill without broader input. The measure was kept in a room in a House office building last week to let members review it without risk of it leaking to the press.
Pallone and Neal invoked Trump's prior commitments, saying the proposal "would rip health care away from millions of Americans, ration care for working families and seniors, and put insurance companies back in charge of health care decisions -- contrary to everything President Trump has said he would do with his health care plan."
Conservative and moderate Republicans have raised concerns about key provisions within the bill. Conservatives say have argued that refundable tax credits are little more than a new entitlement program and some Republicans from Medicaid-expansion states have said they would not support plans that could kick millions of people off the Medicaid rolls.
Bowing to pressure from the right, House leaders instituted an income cap on the tax credit to prevent wealthier Americans from claiming it.
The House plan would also retain the so-called Cadillac tax -- which has never gone into affect -- in order to hit the budget targets required under the maneuver used to pass the bill, called budget reconciliation.
Still, Republican leaders are committed to moving forward with major tenants of the legislation and are hoping that President Donald Trump and his administration can bring wavering members on board and get the bill across the finish line.
Monday, the bill was released without any Congressional Budget Office score, a sign that Republicans may be worried about the fallout once Americans understand how many people could be affected by changes in coverage.