GOP Senators Unveil Alternative To Current Obamacare Repeal Bill

Carolyn Kaster/AP

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) on Thursday revealed an alternate proposal to repeal Obamacare as the current Republican health care bill remains in legislative limbo.

Graham’s and Cassidy’s bill would maintain taxes Obamacare levied on wealthy Americans and send federal money currently spent on health insurance to the states as block grants.

Their proposal would repeal a tax Obamacare imposed on medical device makers. It would also repeal the financial penalty imposed on individuals who did not comply with the health care law’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance and the requirement for employers to provide affordable coverage plans, while maintaining the ban on denying coverage to consumers with pre-existing conditions.

During a joint appearance on CNN, Cassidy said their proposal would keep Obamacare’s Essential Health Benefits (EHB) rule, which mandates that insurance plans cover a basic minimum of health care.

“You have the protection,” he said.

Graham said the proposal would “sever health policy from the federal tax code” and make Medicaid “more sustainable.”

Cassidy said the taxes on the wealthy could eventually be repealed “as part of comprehensive tax return,” but not as part of health care legislation.

“Our problem has been trying to combine tax reform with replacement of Obamacare,” he said. “Putting those two together has not worked.”

Graham did not say whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is on board with their proposal.

“We’re not undercutting Mitch, he’s not undercutting us,” Graham said. “We’re going to support his effort with his new plan, but we want an alternative.”

Asked whether any Democratic lawmakers are on board, he added, “Not yet. But there are just — to be continued.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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