Published: Tue, March 21, 2017
U.S. | By Monique Johnson

Republicans revamp U.S. health bill, boost benefits to older Americans

Republicans revamp U.S. health bill, boost benefits to older Americans

"We think we should be offering more assistance than the bill now does", for lower-income people age 50 to 64, Ryan said of the tax credits for health insurance that are proposed in the legislation. But he allowed the additional assistance was one of several House revisions to be discussed in advance of Thursday's vote, along with possible changes to help low-income people more with tax credits and require able-bodied Medicaid recipients to meet work requirements.

Ryan didn't say whether he had the 218 votes necessary to pass the bill, which would replace President Barack Obama's signature Affordable Care Act, but he said he feels "very good about where we are". Republicans hold a majority in the chamber but can not afford to have more than 21 defections for the measure to pass.

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton has emerged as the most outspoken voice against his own party's health bill. The effective conclusion of negotiations means that it is now time for House Republicans to get in line -- or vote against a bill that has the President's seal of approval. But it wasn't clear until Sunday that the change would take the form of more financial assistance for seniors - rather than, say, moving the bill in an even more conservative direction, as some House Republicans have demanded. It estimated that 24 million people of all ages would lose coverage over 10 years. Even more insurers will head for the exits, likely leaving millions of people around the country with the promise of tax subsidies but no insurer in their areas offering policies.

Moderate Republicans have also expressed concerns about the bill, and their worries are often not the same as that of conservatives.

Another change that's being worked on: Expanding tax credits to older Americans.

The White House was trying to win over conservatives who are part of the House Freedom Caucus, including the group's chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. Meadows joined two Senate conservatives, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, for a weekend meeting at Trump's Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, with top White House aide Steve Bannon and other White House officials. However, the orientation of his health care proposal is a far cry from Jesus, who proclaimed, "Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me" (Matt. 25.40).

"We're still having conversations with our members", Ryan said.

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