GOP health care plan meets some Michigan skepticism

Melissa Burke
The Detroit News

Several members of Congress from Michigan expressed skepticism Tuesday over House Republicans’ new plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Several conservative Republicans have already rejected the bill, including Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, who said the new GOP plan “repackages Obamacare.”

“It’s a political plan that signals retreat and will not reduce health care costs,” Amash said in a Facebook post.

“Obamacare is essentially a financing system to ensure that the insurance companies get paid to provide coverage to individuals who were previously deemed ineligible. The GOP proposal amends Obamacare and maintains its overall structure and general approach. It does not effectively address health care costs.”

Conservative backlash threatens GOP health care plan

Amash believes that states, independently or through multistate compacts, could better address the health care needs of their residents.

Nearly 24 hours after House Republicans released the plan, Michigan officials were still trying to determine what it could mean for the state’s unique form of Medicaid expansion, which required two federal waivers for full implementation.

As of Monday, more than 650,000 low-income residents were enrolled in the Healthy Michigan program.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s office was still “working through the details of the proposal” and was not prepared to comment Tuesday, said spokeswoman Anna Heaton. The state Department of Health and Human Services also declined comment pending further review of the House GOP plan.

Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, said the GOP plan to end the Medicaid expansion after 2020 and cap the funds that states could receive under Medicaid beyond that year.

“Under this new plan, states like Michigan will have less options to support people who rely on Medicaid as their only source of health insurance,” Lawrence said.

Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, predicted the GOP plan would result in millions of Americans losing access to health care and could threaten more than 100,000 Michigan jobs.

“Unfortunately, the Republican repeal bill would make families pay more for worse care, especially seniors,” Kildee said.

Rep. Mike Bishop, a Rochester Republican, sits on the Ways and Means Committee that has partial jurisdiction over the legislation. He described the bill as fiscally responsible legislation that would deliver “relief” from Obamacare’s taxes and mandates.

“People have got to try and stop stirring the pot of human emotion. The fear of losing health care is something we should not threaten people with,” Bishop said in a Facebook post.

“We are not going to be pulling out the rug from under people. The plan is to ensure that those that have a healthcare plan will still continue to have one moving forward.”

Republican Rep. Fred Upton, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, stressed that the legislation provides a transition period for those currently enrolled in Obamacare and for states such as Michigan that expanded Medicaid under the ACA.

He said the bill would allow young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26 and would expand health savings accounts, and encourage small employers to band together to provide health insurance to their employees.

“I also believe the American people deserve an open and transparent debate on these issues, and look forward to beginning this week,” Upton said.

Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, was still reviewing the legislation Tuesday.

“I have pledged to support efforts to repeal President Obama’s unaffordable health care law and replace it with a new patient-centered system,” he said in a statement. “As I do with all legislation, I will review the bills to see if they meet the priorities of the hardworking residents of my district.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, said the legislation would create “chaos” in the health care system, causing higher costs and less coverage for middle-class families.

She said the legislation would weaken the guarantee for coverage of preexisting conditions.

“This is not the kind of deal that the people of Michigan want to have for themselves or their families. And to add insult to injury, it cuts taxes for the wealthiest Americans while making most Americans pay more,” Stabenow said on the Senate floor.

“This whole thing is stunning to me — that it is being put forward with a straight face.”