By JAKE JARVIS
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., said Friday he had not seen a draft of a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act which Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have reportedly hidden from the public.
Speaking to reporters after a round-table discussion concerning the future of the Montgomery and the West Virginia University Institute of Technology, Jenkins said the process to get rid of former President Barack Obama’s signature health-reform law will be transparent.
“We are supposed to see the actual legislation — the bill drafting — this coming week,” Jenkins, a member of House appropriations committee, said. “The good thing is this is an open and transparent process. We’re going to see the legislation. It’s going to be debated in committee.”
Lawmakers were reportedly told that Republicans on the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee, which is tentatively scheduled to take up the bill this week, could privately inspect a draft of the bill in the basement of an office building, the New York Times reported. Several Democrats and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, went searching for the bill Thursday, but couldn’t find it.
“I don’t know that there is an actual draft bill in one piece, because this is really at three-step process,” Jenkins said.
There could be a 208 percent increase in the number of uninsured West Virginians by 2019 if the ACA were partially repealed through a budget reconciliation process, potentially affecting health coverage for some 184,000 people, according to previous Gazette-Mail reports.
What does Jenkins want to happen to the people covered under Medicaid when it was expanded with the ACA? For one, he wants the program to be limited to disabled people, pregnant women or other groups of people who are unable to work.
The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have looked at two different ways to fund Medicaid — through a block grant or through a per capita spending cap, the Times reported. Both being a large departure from how the program has been funded since its inception more than 50 years ago.
Critics say that either alternative funding option will limit how much money states receive from the federal government, shifting the responsibility to cover the cost of each enrollee’s care to the state. Jenkins said Republicans should discuss allowing states to opt-in to continue offering expanded Medicaid.
“I personally don’t think a block grant is best suited for West Virginia,” Jenkins said. “The block grant concept is that the federal government just identifies a certain amount of money and then sends that money to the state, and the federal government washing their hands and says their role and responsibility is over.”
Instead, Jenkins favors setting a per capita cap, which would be determined by looking at how many people are enrolled in the program at each state and setting a cap on the amount of money the state could be reimbursed for.
“I also want to make sure that those who are able-bodied — who have just been put into Medicaid by virtue of Obamacare has an ability to, potentially, if they want to stay on that system, they could do that. That’s one of the potential options.”
Regardless of what option Republicans take to repeal and replace the ACA, Jenkins said that it would be years and months before those changes take place.
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