KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Three GOP Senators Offer Plan To Replace Obamacare

The measure, dubbed the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment Act, is being advanced by Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. It may provide a window into how Republicans plan to handle health reform issues in the upcoming election cycle and beyond. 

NPR: Key Senate Republicans Offer Their Plan To Replace Obamacare
Republicans have offered a wide array of proposals to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act since it became law in 2010. But few have come with the pedigree of the plan just unveiled by a trio of senior Senate Republicans. The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment Act, or CARE for short, is a proposal being floated by Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Tom Coburn, R-Okla. (Rovner, 1/27).

The Wall Street Journal: 3 GOP Senators Propose Obamacare Alternative
Three Republican senators are floating an alternative to the Affordable Care Act in what they hope will be the basis of a GOP plan to replace the health law so many vehemently oppose. Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma say their blueprint – which you can see here – is intended to start a debate among their colleagues about the kind of health policy they can agree on (Radnofsky, 1/27).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: GOP Senators' New Health Overhaul Plan Would Tax Some Workers' Benefits
A health care overhaul plan released Monday by three Senate Republicans may reveal how the party will handle the issue for the 2014 elections and beyond. ... The proposal would not change the long-standing practice of allowing employers to fully deduct the cost of providing health insurance. However, some employees getting very generous coverage would have to pay taxes on the value of some benefits. The proposal would cap the tax exclusion for an employee’s health coverage at 65 percent of an average plan's cost (Carey, 1/28).

The Washington Post's WonkBlog: Republicans Have An Obamacare Replacement. Economists Will Love It, Real People Won't.
One leg is expanding access to coverage. Obamacare does this by ending medical underwriting -- the part of the individual market where, prior to 2014, health plans used individuals' pre-existing conditions to set the price of the premium they pay. Under Obamacare, insurance companies cannot use medical histories to set prices. The Republican proposal would do this in a more limited way: It would end pre-existing conditions limitations for those who remain continuously insured. That means if you lost your job and health insurance, and immediately purchased a plan on the individual market, your insurance company could not use your medical history to set prices. If your coverage did lapse, however, there would be the possibility of facing underwriting fees when purchasing an individual plan (Kliff, 1/27).

The Associated Press: 3 Republicans Back Health Care Alternative
The plan is a rarity among congressional Republicans, who vowed more than three years to "repeal and replace" President Barack Obama's health care law, also known as 'Obamacare,' but since then have focused almost exclusively on trying to repeal it without advancing a comprehensive alternative. As described by aides, the size of the tax credits envisioned in the alternative would be determined by age and income, and be available to the unemployed as well as those seeking individual coverage or working for smaller companies. Those with incomes up to three times the federal poverty level — generally $70,650 for a family of four — would be eligible (Espo, 1/27).

Fox News: Senate Republicans Pitch ObamaCare Alternative On Eve Of Presidential Address
Under the plan, insurances companies would not be able to impose lifetime limits on patients and would be required to allow dependent coverage up to the age of 26, as ObamaCare currently does. The Republican proposal would address the issue of pre-existing conditions by creating a new "continuous coverage" standard that would prevent any individual moving from one insurance plan to another from being denied on the basis of a pre-existing condition so long as that individual was continuously enrolled in a health plan. The requirements on individuals to buy insurance, and on mid-sized and large businesses to provide it, would be repealed (Rowland, 1/27).

McClatchy: Three Senate Republicans Offer Alternative To Obamacare
On the eve of the president's State of the Union speech, Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina on Monday offered a plan to repeal Barack Obama’s signature accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, and replace it with a plan he says would lower costs and expand access to coverage. His proposal would keep popular elements of Obamacare: the ban on limits on lifetime insurance benefits and the option for people to keep adult children on their plans until age 26. But the rest is different, and its rollout the day before the president’s annual report to Congress helped put Republican ideas on how to replace the law into public debate, though it has virtually no chance of passing as long as the Senate is controlled by Democrats (Schoof, 1/27).

CQ HealthBeat: Republican Senators Roll Out Their Health Care Law Alternative Plan
A trio of Republican senators released their framework Monday for an alternative to the health care law that would offer a tax credit to help low-income people buy health insurance, using revenue gained by capping the tax exclusion that employees now receive for their group health coverage (Attias, 1/27).

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