By JESS MANCINI
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — A bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will continue the three most-supported provisions, a West Virginia congressman said on Monday.
The three provisions are coverage for pre-existing conditions, coverage of children on a parent’s policy until age 26 and the Medicaid Expansion, Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said.
“These are going to be the crux of the new bill,” McKinley said.
The Republican leadership Monday afternoon released the legislation, the American Health Care Act, while also on Monday, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and three other Republican senators sent a letter to the Senate president with concerns over the House plan.
Repeal of the Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare after the former president, is a priority of the Republican-controlled Congress with the support of President Trump.
The legislation will be passed by the House by March 23, then it will go to the Senate, McKinley said. The goal is to have the legislation to the president by spring break in April, he said.
Voting may start on Wednesday.
McKinley on Monday was in Parkersburg meeting with several groups to discuss health care. Even if repeal and replace occurs this year, it probably won’t be until until 2019 when participants will see a drop in insurance costs, he said.
A critical component of the plan is to remove the high-risk segment from the general pool of those covered, McKinley said. The high-risk pool will be administered by the states, but funded by the federal government, he said.
“We have to find a way to get these premiums down,” he said.
The initial legislation will be the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act and hopefully include health savings accounts and the ability to acquire insurance across state lines, he said. If not, the latter two would be addressed in following separate legislation, McKinley said.
Thirdly, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services will be capable of rolling back some regulations, McKinley said.
The American Health Care Act unveiled on Monday reduces government involvement, repeals fines on citizens who don’t carry health insurance, replaces income-based subsidies for premiums with age-based tax credits, continues the expansion of Medicaid to additional low-earning Americans until 2020, but after which states adding Medicaid recipients would no longer receive the additional federal funds under the law. It changes the Medicaid program from open-ended federal financing to a limit based on enrollment and costs in each state.
The draft plan from the House doesn’t protect recipients in the Medicaid Expansion, particularly families and individuals being treated for opioids and mental health issues, and doesn’t provide a flexibility for the states, Capito and Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
A poorly implemented or timed change in the funding structure in Medicaid could result in a reduction in access to life-saving health care services, the letter said. The Medicaid population includes beneficiaries who are on and off Medicaid due to frequent changes in income, family situations and living environments, the letter said.
“We believe Medicaid needs to be reformed, but reform should not come at the cost of disruption in access to health care for our country’s most vulnerable and sickest individuals,” the letter said.
With work on the health plan and other issues in Congress, McKinley said the president posting on Twitter that Barack Obama ordered the phones in his campaign office to be wiretapped was a distraction.
“That’s Washington,” he said.
National press organizations reported the FBI has asked the Justice Department to intervene, including The New York Times reporting FBI Director James B. Comey asked the department to publicly reject the president’s statements. A spokesman for Obama said the accusation was false.
Capito spokesman Amy Graham said Capito is monitoring developments in the story, “but her primary focus remains repealing and replacing Obamacare with a health care system that truly works for West Virginians.”
See more from The Parkersburg News and Sentinel