Possible GOP replacement plan would let states keep ACA coverage

Vice President Mike Pence discusses the Affordable Care Act with congressional Republicans after a meeting with GOP leadership at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 4. Monday, four GOP senators unveiled a proposal on a replacement program that would allow states to keep insurance marketplaces established by former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 23 (UPI) — Four Republican senators on Monday unveiled a possible healthcare replacement for the Affordable Care Act, which would allow states to keep insurance exchanges created by former President Barack Obama‘s signature law.

The proposal, called the Patient Freedom Act, was sponsored by Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Shelley Moore-Capito, R-W.Va.; and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

The PFA outlines three options for states going forward — keeping its ACA exchanges, participating in new exchanges or establishing an alternate system without federal funding or regulation.

The effort comes as Republican lawmakers and President Donald Trump face growing discontent from Democrats over the issue. Earlier this month, Congress began the process to repeal the ACA and Trump issued an executive order Friday to further the cause.

“This proposal empowers patients by eliminating costly and burdensome mandates, making enrollment easy, requiring price transparency, and restoring state authority to set rules for their health insurance markets and giving patients power to make their own health care decisions,” the bill states.

The proposal also promises to keep certain patient protections from the ACA, including a ban on exclusions for people with pre-existing conditions and discrimination-based prohibitions.

Republicans have been criticized for going after the ACA when they don’t have a suitable replacement — a scenario that some from Obama’s administration have said could be disastrous for millions of Americans.

The PFA promises to eliminate federal requirements that citizens and businesses buy medical coverage, and let state lawmakers decide what their local healthcare exchanges look like.

“If you like your insurance you should keep it, and we mean it,” Cassidy said Monday.

The plan is somewhat of a departure from the Republican Party’s resistant stance on the ACA, which is colloquially called “Obamacare.”

The PFA is the first of several proposed replacements for Obama’s signature healthcare law expected in the coming weeks. Trump has pledged to replace the ACA with a better program that insures more Americans and costs less.

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