The Obamacare replacement bill released by House Republicans on Monday has already drawn loud criticisms from a slew of other congressional Republicans. Leading the opposition, predictably, are some of the fiscal hard-liners of the House Freedom Caucus who put together their own repeal and replacement plan last month. Freedom Caucus member Rep. Dave Brat told the Washington Examiner that the House leadership’s plan was dead on arrival. “It doesn’t matter who comes to us and asks us to go along with this devastating program,” he said. “The answer will be no.” The Freedom Caucus’ Justin Amash dubbed the bill “Obamacare 2.0.”
Among the points of contention are the refundable tax credits for insurance, which, when they appeared in a draft of the bill that leaked in February, were called out as new entitlements by fiscal conservatives. The new bill phases them out for the wealthy, but this still doesn’t cut it for the Freedom Caucus or for the larger Republican Study Committee, about 170 members strong, which drafted a policy memo Monday outlining objections to the new bill. “Writing checks to individuals to purchase insurance is, in principle, Obamacare,” it reads. The memo also claims that, because “the draft bill maintains the Medicaid expansion as-is through the end of 2019,” it will “contribute to the worsening of the federal and state budgets.” Still, RSC Chairman Mark Walker adopted a rosier view on the bill in a public statement “I applaud the movement and believe it is the right direction,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the Senate, Sen. Rand Paul has given the new bill a Trumpian dismissal.
Four Republican senators from states that passed Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion—Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, Colorado’s Cory Gardner, West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito, and Ohio’s Rob Portman—also oppose the House GOP’s plan and wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying so. “We are concerned that any poorly implemented or poorly timed change in the current funding structure in Medicaid could result in a reduction in access to life-saving health care services,” they wrote, “and we will not support a plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states.”