Washington – As the Senate’s chief defender of the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Chris Murphy took a sledgehammer to a GOP alternative Thursday.
“It would mean the retraction of health care for millions of Americans, “ said Murphy on the Senate floor.
The House of Representatives voted once again this week to repeal the ACA. But this time the repeal bill included language that requires the GOP to come up with an alternative plan.
The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment – or CARE – Act was quickly crafted by Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.
It would eliminate the requirement that nearly all Americans purchase health insurance and end the expansion of Medicaid, the government health plan for the poor.
The plan would, however, offer subsidies to purchase insurance in the form of refundable tax credits to individuals and families that earn up to 300 percent of the poverty-level income.
And like the ACA, dependents would be able to stay on their parents’ health care plans until they’re 26, and no one could be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions — although the proposal requires individuals to have ‘continuous coverage’ to benefit from that protection.
Murphy derided the proposal, saying it was unveiled in a “memo” with few details and no indication of cost.
He criticized the tweaking of the pre-existing condition reform, saying that those who did enroll in coverage at a specific time would lose protections.
“If you did not sign up at that special moment you wouldn’t get coverage,” he said.
Murphy also ribbed the GOP for including subsidies for low-income individuals and families, in the form of tax credits, in their plan. Republicans support a challenge to the ACA’s subsidies in the Supreme Court.
“It’s a major concession from the Republicans that tax credits are the best way to get coverage for more people,” Murphy said.
But in general, the Connecticut Democrat said, the GOP plan should be scrapped.
“What this is really about is people paying more and getting less,” he said.