Iowa Republicans cautious on proposed health care plan

They say they're 'studying' and 'reviewing' bill replacing Obamacare

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The Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act has drawn criticism from some conservative groups, but so far, Iowa Republicans are staying on the sidelines over the proposal.

The House GOP released a copy of its health care proposal late Monday. By Tuesday afternoon, the Club for Growth, Heritage Action for America and FreedomWorks already had weighed in against it. FreedomWorks called it “Obamacare-lite,” and Heritage said insurance consumers wouldn’t see any major difference from the Affordable Care Act.

Iowa Republicans in Congress weren’t that harsh.

“I’m still studying details of the legislation,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement.

Grassley said he agrees with the goal of “protecting access to health care while moving to a market-driven system that provides coverage people want at affordable prices.” But he didn’t weigh in on details of the new plan.

A representative of Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said in an email: “Senator Ernst is currently reviewing the bill.”

Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, said, “I’m going to read the bill and do my homework.”

Both said bringing down costs was a key consideration.

Democrats already have targeted the legislation as they have fought to preserve the nearly 7-year-old Affordable Care Act. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa City, complained that thousands of Iowans would lose coverage under the plan.

“There is no doubt that those who will be most negatively affected are those who are in greatest need,” he said.

Republicans, now with control of Congress and the White House, have been trying for weeks to fashion legislation that would meet the demands of GOP voters who have called for the Affordable Care Act’s repeal, as well as avoid millions pf people losing coverage and the collapse of individual insurance markets.

Proponents of the bill say it keeps the repeal promise while providing a stable transition. They say the new plan means lower costs and more choices.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad also kept mostly to the sidelines on the issue. In his own statement, the Republican governor said, “I am encouraged Congress is taking the first steps to replace Obamacare.” He added, however, that it would be “premature to comment on any specific provision of the current draft of the American Health Care Act.”

Of particular interest to states is how the proposal treats Medicaid. The plan would maintain the Affordable Care Act’s expanded Medicaid coverage until 2020, when states adding recipients would do so without additional federal funding.

Branstad’s reference to the bill as a “current draft” echoed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who described it as a “work in progress.”

President Donald Trump praised the legislation, referring to it as “our wonderful new Healthcare Bill.”

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