‘A work in progress:’ Comstock not sold on Obamacare replacement bill
A spokesman for Comstock on Tuesday called the proposed American Health Care Act “a work in progress.”
The spokesman's lukewarm statement on the GOP plan comes after the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) on Monday produced an estimate of the budgetary effects.
The budget analysts predicted that 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation in 2018 than under current law, with that number rising to 24 million by 2026.
The CBO also said the legislation would slice $337 billion off federal budget deficits by 2026, a move that could pacify conservative Republicans who have opposed other elements of the bill.
Average premiums for people buying insurance on their own under the proposed law would be 15 to 20 percent higher in 2018 and 2019 than under current law. That would change by 2026, however, with premiums around 10 percent lower than under current law.
While dozens of lawmakers have been outspoken in support or opposition of the proposal, which was unveiled last week, Comstock has remained silent.
Jeff Marschner, Comstock's deputy chief of staff, said, “The legislation is a work in progress, and we continue to talk with constituents, medical professionals and other stakeholders on their concerns and needed reforms.”
Democrats, meanwhile, remain united against the new bill, and they've become emboldened by the CBO findings.
Both of Virginia's senators, Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, have come out against the new health care plan.
Meredith Kelly of The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee issued a statement this week, saying, “House Republicans have reached a new low in their blind pursuit of ACA repeal."
"After years of finger pointing and grandstanding, they've revealed half-baked legislation – negotiated behind closed doors – that rips health care away from hardworking families, breaks the promises they've already made,” Kelly said. “The question is simple: Will Representative Comstock fall in line with the far-right wing of her part and vote against her constituents?”
Members of President Donald Trump's administration were quick to denounce elements of the CBO's findings.
“We disagree strenuously with the report that was put out,” Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services said.
On Tuesday, changes were suggested to the bill by Senate Republicans who want to see the AHCA encompass lower insurance costs for poor older Americans. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the Republican leadership, asked for steps to make the bill “more helpful to people on the lower end.”
Under Obamacare, insurers cannot charge older adults more than three times what they charge younger adults for the same coverage. Under the new bill, insurers would be able to expand that to 5-1.
Republicans in favor of the measure cannot afford many defections when the bill is expected to come to a vote next week.
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