Obamacare Repeal Bill Clears First Hurdle

House Ways and Means Committee gives “thumbs up”

Republicans have cleared the first hurdle in their plan to overhaul the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), according to a Reuters report. The House Ways and Means Committee approved the bill along party lines after debating the draft legislation for nearly 18 hours. The chamber’s Energy and Commerce Committee is continuing to review the plan. 

The Ways and Mean Committee, which considered the tax-related provisions of the bill, made no changes, despite dozens of attempts by Democrats to introduce amendments, Reuters says.

Once the two committees have approved their parts of the legislation, both will go to the House Budget Committee, which is expected to merge them into one bill that will then be voted on by the full House of Representatives. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) wants that vote to happen this month so the bill can move to the Senate for consideration.

The legislation aims to cancel the mandate requiring people to buy insurance or pay a penalty; to reverse most of the PPACA’s taxes; to introduce a new system of tax credits based on age rather than income; and to overhaul Medicaid.

Hospitals, doctors, insurers, and patient advocates had appealed to congress after the draft was released on March 6 to reconsider the proposed changes and how they would affect health care.

Republican lawmakers face resistance from conservatives within their own ranks who say the bill, which would create a system of tax credits to coax people to buy private insurance on the open market, isn’t radical enough.

Democrats denounce it as a gift to the rich and say informed debate on the plan is impossible without knowing its cost.

Source: Reuters; March 9, 2017.