U.S. House Republicans unveiled Wednesday their healthcare agenda to replace Obamacare, which retained certain provisions of the latter.
Opponents have been screaming to “repeal and replace” the act since 2010 when the Affordable Care Act was signed. The new proposal is part of Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s “A Better Way” blueprint, which offers a Republican alternative on issues like poverty, national security, the economy, healthcare, tax reform and constitutional authority.
“Obamacare set America on a path that leads to a larger government having a greater role in how health care decisions are made. Today we are proposing a new approach,” the proposal reportedly reads. “This report is the beginning of the conversation, not the end.”
Ryan had earlier released the initiatives on national security and combating poverty. The Republican’s initiatives on tax reforms are expected this Friday with proposals on constitutional authority and the economy to follow.
“Obamacare has limited choices for patients, driven up costs for consumers, and buried employers and healthcare providers under thousands of new regulations,” a draft of the plan reportedly said. “This law cannot be fixed.”
Ryan’s plan highlights long-standing Republican ideas like allowing people to buy health insurance across state lines and expanding access to health savings accounts. The plan relies on individual tax credits allowing people to buy insurance from private insurers.
The plan, however, holds on to certain tenets from Obamacare like allowing people with pre-existing conditions to be covered. In fact, it proposes putting $25 billion behind high-risk pools for such people. The plan also hopes to transform the federal-state Medicaid program by turning it into state block grants or individual per-capita allotments to curb spending.
The plan would gradually increase the Medicare eligibility age, currently at 65. From 2020, the Medicare eligibility age would increase to match that of the Social Security pension plan, which is at 67.
Republican aides told the Associated Press that the plan is intended as an overall roadmap showing how the GOP would undo and replace Obamacare with a Republican in the White House. Specific legislative details, they said, would be covered as bills are written next year.
Reports say that this proposal is more substantive than anything offered by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. It also provides a framework for Republican action in 2017.