The Texas GOP is preparing to repeal the Affordable Act on the first day of the new year with a plan to strip out a critical component of the health care law.
In a move that is sure to anger Texas Democrats and set back the GOP agenda, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission on Monday unveiled plans to kill a provision that requires states to expand Medicaid under the ACA.
The Medicaid expansion, which was a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s signature health care overhaul, would have made Texas the first state to offer subsidized health insurance to the poor.
The program has expanded to more than 20 states.
The state GOP has been working on its version of the repeal bill for months, with the goal of passing it by the end of the year.
It’s a strategy that has put pressure on the governor, who has been a fierce critic of the ACA, to come out against the repeal effort.
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On Monday, Republican lawmakers released a plan that would remove the requirement that states expand Medicaid to cover residents of states that chose not to do so, leaving states that choose to opt out with limited choices.
The plan also removes a provision mandating that state officials offer free or reduced-cost coverage to Medicaid recipients.
State Sen. John Whitmire, R-Brazoria, said the repeal would have been a huge win for the state, which has struggled to enroll the people who need the care most.
The provision, he said, “would have been devastating to the Texas economy.”
The Texas Health Policy Council, which represents conservative Republicans in the statehouse, has been trying to undermine the expansion.
Its president, Jim Sgro, is also running for governor, and he has said the law was not good enough.
The repeal plan also includes language that would repeal an amendment that would have created an alternative health care system to the ACA that would not require insurers to cover essential benefits such as dental care and vision.
The plan says it would have eliminated the mandate that most Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty, and would have allowed states to opt into an alternative plan for residents who qualify for Medicaid but do not meet other requirements.
The repeal would also eliminate a provision to allow individuals to choose their own doctors.
The Health Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank in Austin, has criticized the Texas plan, saying it would leave the health insurance markets “under the control of the insurance companies” and that it would allow insurers to deny coverage to people who have preexisting conditions.
A spokesman for the governor said the governor was “very supportive of states’ ability to create an alternative system.”
“The plan will protect Texas’ most vulnerable citizens and protect our health care and safety,” said Chris Schmid, a spokesman for House Speaker Joe Straus, R.I.S.
But Democratic lawmakers in Texas, who have long pushed for the repeal of the Affordable CARE Act, were furious that Republicans were willing to go as far as to destroy the law on the eve of the state’s Memorial Day holiday.
In their version of repeal, they would allow states to “determine how to implement the Affordablecare Act’s Medicaid expansion and the ACA’s Medicaid waiver without imposing the mandate,” according to a prepared statement.
“This plan would be a disaster for Texas families and for Texas’ economy.
The bill does not provide the resources to implement these changes.”
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