Early Reaction To House GOP Health Care Plan Signifies Start Of Intense Political Fight

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The long-awaited 123-page Republican proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has been released.

The bill would no longer penalize Americans for not having health insurance and keeps some popular Obamacare provisions, including protecting people with pre-existing conditions.

However, some local leaders are questioning what effect it would have on people in Medicaid expansion programs. It seems the reaction is just the start of an intense political fight.

“Unfortunately, we’re going to have to do it without the help of our Democratic colleagues. Unfortunately, they have made it very clear they’re not going to vote for anything that helps deal with this,” Sen. Pat Toomey said.

Answering questions during a social media town hall in Philadelphia, Sen. Toomey said it is important to understand if the bill becomes law, people would have plenty of time to make the necessary adjustments.

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“If we vote tomorrow on the repeal, the actual effective date will be two or three years down the road. We’re not going to pull the rug out from under anyone,” he said.

Sen. Toomey went on to say the big things Republicans want to do involve stabilizing the collapsing individual insurance market, continuing to protect people with chronic health care needs and resolving how to deal with the expansion of Medicaid in some states.

Gov. Tom Wolf issued a statement that reads in part:

“This plan does not fix the Affordable Care Act – it would just delay the Republican plan to cut coverage for nearly a million Pennsylvanians, including those who were able to access quality, affordable health care after I expanded Medicaid two years ago.”

Gov. Wolf tells “The KDKA Morning News” he thinks the GOP’s plan would be bad for Pennsylvania.

“There are 700,000 Pennsylvanians who have health insurance as a result of the expanded Medicaid over the last two years and 124,000 Pennsylvanians are getting treatment and getting reimbursed for substance use disorders…and finally there are lot of smaller health centers [and] hospitals all around our state, rural areas, living on the financial edge…and they’re on the edge now, they’re going to be out of business,” he said.

The proposed bill would freeze enrollment in Medicaid and put a cap on Medicaid grants to some states.

In response to a tweet by President Donald Trump, Sen. Bob Casey tweeted, “The GOP health plan is basically a tax cut for millionaires, destroys Medicaid and insures fewer people. But yeah, why would we worry?”

The White House is calling the proposed bill an important step forward, but it hasn’t endorsed the plan.

“I’m not sure there’s ever been any issue more thoroughly adjudicated through our political system. We’ve had four federal elections since Obamacare passed, and in every one with the possible exception of 2012, the people have spoken very clearly. This is not the direction they want to go,” Sen. Toomey said.

On Wednesday, House committees are set to start voting on the bill.

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