Rhode Island leaders criticize proposed health overhaul

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s Democratic leaders say a new GOP health care bill proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives could harm the state.

U.S. Reps. David Cicilline and Jim Langevin criticized the proposal Tuesday. So did the state Senate’s health committee chairman, Democratic Sen. Josh Miller, who says it would make more people uninsured and the health system more expensive.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo was at a conference in Arizona and not immediately available for comment.

But in January, she wrote to U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy asking the California Republican to maintain existing coverage gains realized under former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and to avoid transferring costs to states.

She said states should have the freedom to experiment and the discretion to retain reforms that have worked.

Rep. Langevin released the following statementL

“Republicans have engaged in a seven-year mission to demolish the Affordable Care Act, a law that has expanded health coverage to approximately 20 million Americans and more than 100,000 Rhode Islanders.  Regrettably, their single-minded focus on gutting the law has eclipsed any legitimate policy solutions to ensure Americans aren’t harmed by this rushed and ill-conceived alternative.  The latest Republican proposal would cause premiums for millions of Americans to sky-rocket; it would assess financial penalties on people who experience a lapse in coverage regardless of circumstance or need; and it would raise out-of-pocket costs on medical expenses while allowing insurance companies to charge older Americans more to see their doctors.  Finally, it would force state Medicaid programs to take on higher costs to care for our most vulnerable children, seniors and individuals with disabilities.

“I have long said that the ACA isn’t perfect, and I am willing to work in a bipartisan manner to improve the law.  However, if enacted, the Republican plan will only lead to higher costs, less coverage, and increased strain on our health care system, our patients and our families.”

Rep. Cicilline released this statement:

The Republican replacement for Obamacare is a great deal for the super-wealthy. It’s a disaster for just about everyone else.

“The Republican replacement encourages young people not to buy insurance. It discourages poor people from finding work. It gives huge tax cuts to insurance companies and the super-rich. It allows insurance companies to start charging older enrollees much higher premiums.”

“The Republican replacement substantially cuts Medicaid funding that benefits America’s seniors. It rolls back requirements that insurance companies have to offer plans that cover prescription drug, pregnancy, mental health, and hospitalization costs. It zeroes out funding for Planned Parenthood, which will hurt women and families. And it accelerates the insolvency of Medicare.”

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