Murkowski: Health care changes must be 'done right'

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More than seven years have elapsed since the ink dried on President Obama's health care plan, the Affordable Care Act. Fixing our nation's health care system shouldn't be a partisan issue.

The bill would phase out the extra money Obama's law provides to states that have expanded coverage under the federal-state Medicaid program for low-income people. It would also prevent insurers from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions, but would give states flexibility to opt out of so-called essential health benefits, such as maternity care and prescription drug coverage, that experts said could make it harder for some sick people to find affordable plans.

Paul was among four Republican senators who said that they would oppose the Senate's version of the American Health Care Act after party leaders introduced it Thursday.

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Republicans can only afford to lose two votes and still pass the bill in the Senate, given the expectation of universal Democratic opposition. But it maintains the health insurance marketplaces and tax subsidies that help people pay premiums.

Among the scheme of the new proposal is the remission of the individual mandate of Obamacare, cutting federal support for Medicaid and eliminating the taxes that raised the previous measure on the wealthy and insurance companies, a campaign that the Republicans have pursued during a long time.

"It's going to be very good", President Donald Trump told reporters. Rand Paul (R-KY), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) say they "are not ready" to vote for the bill.

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But the legislation is still expected to result in millions of people losing insurance when evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office. Governor Cuomo says this amendment will cost the state more than $2 billion and force NY to cut services or reduce eligibility.

"I think we can do better than this", he said.

"The way this bill cuts health care is heartless", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor. Under the Senate bill, the percentage would increase with age.

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But Caroline Pearson, a senior vice president at the consulting firm Avalere Health, says the bill bases its tax credits on lower-quality insurance."If you're paying a similar percentage of income, you're getting a less generous product under this new plan", she says. "At first glance, I have serious concerns about the bill's impact on the Nevadans who depend on Medicaid", said Nevada senator Dean Heller, widely seen as the most vulnerable GOP incumbent senator up for reelection in 2018.

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