Health and Science

'Secret' Obamacare bill gets leaked, and it looks like the wealthy would get less financial aid under new GOP plan

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., stands with his copier on a cart as he speaks to reporters after trying to gain access to the room housing the House Republicans' secret health care plan in the Capitol on Thursday, March 2, 2017. Sen. Paul hoped to make copies of the House Republicans' health care plan.
Bill Clark | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

A "new" Republican congressional plan to replace Obamacare, which was being kept secret from the public and even GOP senators, reportedly is considering barring wealthier people from receiving tax credits to help pay for their health insurance plans.

But the new GOP outline still contains many of the same details of a previous replacement proposal, including a provision that has drawn the ire of very conservative members of the Republican House caucus, Politico reported Friday.

That provision would offer tax credits to people based on their age, as opposed to their income, as the Affordable Care Act currently offers people who purchase plans on government-run Obamacare marketplaces. Conservatives have complained that the tax credits would make a replacement merely "Obamacare Lite," and decry the credits as a new entitlement.

However, the new version would not allow higher-income people to get those credits, Politico reported.

The new version the site reported still plans to phase out the expansion of Medicaid benefits to nearly all poor adults and replace that Obamacare provision with block grants from the federal government to states' Medicaid programs.

And the new plan would both eliminate Obamacare taxes, providing wealthy people with a tax break, and generate revenue "by capping the tax exemption" for insurance plans offered through a job "at the 90th percentile of current premiums."

The fact that the new version looks so much like a recent GOP version, which was also leaked to Politico, last week, raises the question of why Republican leaders went to such lengths to hide the proposal in a basement room in the Capitol, where it could only be viewed by select congressmen and not copied to be viewed elsewhere.

Those strict measures led to a bizarre scene in Congress on Thursday, when Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and others tried unsuccessfully to see the plan, and shared their efforts on social media.

"The Republicans are too terrified of their constituents to make their plan to destroy the Affordable Care Act public," said House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday.

Center for American Progress Vice President for Health Policy Topher Spiro said Friday that "the leaked basement bill is pretty much the same as the previous leaked bill."

"With deep cuts to Medicaid and much lower tax credits, the leaked basement bill would still cause millions of people to lose their coverage," Spiro said.

"It would also shift costs to consumers, increasing their costs by an average of $1,380 per year.The impact would be particularly severe for older people ages 55 to 64, whose costs would increase by $5,118 per year," Spiro said. "While hitting older, sicker and lower-income people with increased costs, the bill would also increase taxes on the middle class — all while cutting taxes for the wealthy."