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NC lawmakers react to Trump's new healthcare bill

Posted March 7, 2017 6:54 p.m. EST

— President Donald Trump and his administration's top health official praised the new House Republican health care legislation Tuesday as the GOP embarked on a drive to sell the proposal to rank-and-file lawmakers and the public.

Trump's morning tweet lauding "our wonderful new Healthcare Bill" kicked off the day. Shortly afterward, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price wrote to the chairmen of the two House committees that wrote the measure, saying "they align with the president's goal of rescuing Americans from the failures of the Affordable Care Act."

The new bill aims to replace that law — one of former President Barack Obama's signature achievements — with a system designed along conservative lines. Primarily affected would be some 20 million people who purchase their own private health plans directly from an insurer and the more than 70 million covered by Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income and disabled people.

More than 500,000 North Carolinians get their insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Popular consumer protections in the Obama law would be retained, such as insurance safeguards for people with pre-existing medical problems and parents' ability to keep young adult children on their insurance until age 26.

Policy analysts across the country have been closely examining the legislation over the last 24 hours.

"The new proposal would repeal the Affordable Care Act's premium tax credits, which are based on the cost of plans as well as people's income," said Brendan Riley with the left-leaning North Carolina Justice Center. "The newest proposal would replace those tax credits with a flat tax credit slightly adjusted for age."

Under the proposed legislation, there would be no individual mandate requiring people to have insurance coverage or pay a tax penalty.

"In North Carolina, Obamacare premiums increased an average of 40 percent in 2017. Clearly, the system is broken and must be replaced. This bill is a first step in the right direction," said Republican 2nd District Congressman George Holding.

Democratic 4th District Congressman David Price said, "(It) would lead to care rationing for the most vulnerable populations in order to provide huge tax breaks to health care industry insiders and the wealthiest Americans."

House committees plan to begin voting on the legislation Wednesday.