Changes to health care plan voted on impacting Texas, dividing lawmakers

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, listens during a news conference on President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Lawmakers in Washington D.C. voted at midnight on changes to the country’s health care plan, including repealing tax penalties for people without health insurance.

The House Ways and Means Committee also agreed to end subsidies the government gives to buy health insurance, instead of offering tax credits based on age.

This development comes after Wednesday’s attempted delay from Austin Congressman Lloyd Doggett. The Texas Democrat said there’s been little time to understand what is in the proposal. In a statement Doggett said that the bill needs “extreme vetting.”

GOP House members are still divided on what to do with the Affordable Care Act. One bill would replace it, and another bill would make major changes to it. Some lawmakers have concerns over unknown costs, while others don’t think it will make it to a full vote.

Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz have different views on the current proposal. Senator Cruz recently told reporters that the current bill will not pass the Senate.

Cornyn released a statement saying “the American Health Care Act is the most significant entitlement reform in decades, and that’s something we should all applaud. Putting Medicaid on a more sustainable path: not continuing to spend money that we don’t have and rack up annual deficits, and add to our national debt.”

How proposed healthcare bill could impact Texas.

Some of the big concerns are with Medicaid and finding coverage for the millions of Texans who are still uninsured. While there are many applauding this new bill as a way to replace the Affordable Care Act, some healthcare advocates say it’s still unclear how this could impact Texas. Specifically when it comes to premiums, which did go up in Texas this last year.

The new provision added overnight by ending government subsides to buy health insurance and instead offering tax credits also lends uncertainty to healthcare advocates who are already worried about how low income families could be impacted.

“One thing that is very clear with this is bill is that it doesn’t help get coverage for the remaining 4.6 million uninsured, it is in fact going to make us lose some ground some of the ground we gained in the last two or three years in reducing our uninsured rate,” says Anne Dunkelberg, Associate Director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

One of the reasons for the uncertainty is because the Congressional Budget Office has not released an analysis of the bill, which would estimate the cost of how this legislation could impact the budget. This mean it is unclear how many people might lose coverage.

When it comes to state dollars the uncertainty is focused around the billions allotted for Medicaid. In the state’s next budget about $61 billion is proposed in federal and state dollars to pay for the healthcare program. However, the new healthcare plan under President Trump would freeze or cap Medicaid payments to the state by 2020 leaving it up to the state to make up any funding not supplied by the federal government.

“We think this is going to have a negative impact on Texas because it’s not going to do anything to drive costs down, it’s going to expand Medicaid nationally which will harm the overall Medicaid program,” said Chip Roy, Director of the Center for the Tenth Amendment Action, Texas Public Policy.

Still many are happy to see children under 26 being able to stay on their parents plan and those with pre-existing conditions still getting coverage. Political experts believe the bill will still go through many changes before anything is voted on.

Kate Weidaw is live with how the proposed health care plan would impact Texas on KXAN TV from 4:30 to 9 a.m. 

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