AP sources: Senate GOP would halt Obamacare penalties, taxes

Top Senate Republicans prepared Wednesday to release their plan for dismantling President Barack Obama’s health care law, a proposal that would cut and revamp Medicaid, end penalties on people not buying coverage and eliminate tax increases that financed the statute’s expansion of coverage, lobbyists and congressional aides said.

Departing from the House-approved version of the legislation — which President Donald Trump privately called “mean” last week — the Senate plan would drop the House bill’s waivers allowing states to let insurers boost premiums on some people with pre-existing conditions.

It would also largely retain the subsidies Obama provided to help millions buy insurance, which are pegged mostly to people’s incomes and the premiums they pay.

The House-approved tax credits were tied to people’s ages, a change the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said would boost out-of-pocket costs to many lower earners. Starting in 2020, the Senate version would begin shifting increasing amounts of tax credits away from higher earners, making more funds available to lower-income recipients, some of the officials said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell planned to release the measure Thursday morning and hopes to push it through the Senate next week. Some of its provisions were described by people on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss them publicly.

“We believe we can do better than the Obamacare status quo, and we fully intend to do so,” said McConnell, R-Ky.

McConnell was unveiling his plan even as GOP senators from across the party’s political spectrum complained about the package and the secretive, behind-closed-doors meetings he used to draft a measure reshaping the country’s medical system, which comprises one-sixth of the U.S. economy.

Facing unanimous Democratic opposition, Republicans can suffer defections by no more than two of their 52 senators and still push the measure through the Senate. Enough…

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