GOP Says It Plans to Replace Obamacare With “Universal Access”

Rumor that millions will lose coverage is “big lie,” spokesman says

Responding to criticism that repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) would leave millions without health insurance, House Republicans have announced that their goal in replacing the PPACA is to guarantee “universal access” to health care and coverage, not necessarily to ensure that everyone has insurance, according to an article in The New York Times.

“Our goal here is to make sure that everybody can buy coverage or find coverage if they choose to,” a House leadership aide told journalists.

“There’s a lot of scare tactics out there on this,” said Representative Kevin Brady (R–Texas), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. “We can reassure the American public that the plan they are in right now, the Obamacare plans, will not end on January 20” (the day on which Donald Trump will be inaugurated).

The suggestion that 20 million people will lose their insurance coverage is a “big lie,” Brady said.

According to the House leadership aide, repealing major provisions of the PPACA was a priority for the first 100 days of the Trump administration. But, he said, the date that those provisions would disappear would be delayed, allowing a transition period of two to four years. During that time, Republicans plan to pass one or more replacement bills.

Under the PPACA, people who go without insurance are subject to tax penalties. The House leadership aide said that lowering the cost of insurance was a much better way to encourage people to opt in.

A federal district judge ruled in May that the Obama administration had paid billions of dollars to insurers since January 2014 even though Congress had not appropriated money for such “cost-sharing reductions,” and that the payments therefore violated the Constitution. 

The aide declined to say whether Republicans would seek an immediate halt to the cost-sharing subsidy payments.

Republicans said they were more interested in vindicating Congress’s constitutional “power of the purse.”

Source: The New York Times; December 15, 2016.