Raimondo: GOP health care bill is ‘bad for Rhode Island’

BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — The U.S. Senate will soon take up the GOP’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act after the bill won approval from the House, and local Democratic leaders say they plan to continue to oppose the measure.

“It’s a terrible piece of legislation,” said Gov. Gina Raimondo. “It’s bad for Rhode Island and I plan to keep up the fight, because I don’t want to see it get through the Senate.”

Republicans are celebrating Thursday’s vote, saying the legislation returns control to the states and provides relief from an unsustainable Obamacare.

Raimondo contends that Obamacare should be repaired, not thrown out, noting that Rhode Island has benefited greatly from the law.

“There are 100,000 people who have healthcare coverage that’s basically affordable,” she said Friday while joining Eyewitness News This Morning live in studio.

The Raimondo administration says the Republican plan, if it holds, could mean a loss of almost $200 million in federal Medicaid funds over four years and drive up the number of uninsured people.

As for what’s in the bill, young adults can still remain on their parents’ plans until 26 and it includes flat tax credits to buy insurance with, which increase with consumers’ ages.

One of the biggest questions raised by opponents concerns pre-existing conditions. Obamacare bars insurers from denying coverage because of existing illness and from charging sick people higher premiums.

“Although they say it covers pre-existing conditions, it really does not,” Congressman Jim Langevin said of the GOP bill. “Because states have the ability to waive that as one of the requirements.”

House Republican leadership says there are no Medicaid changes until 2020 and as for pre-existing conditions, the bill has $8 billion in it to fill any gaps. There are experts who believe that is not nearly enough.

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said the House version may be dead on arrival in the Senate, since it’s facing skepticism from both sides of the aisle.

“It’s getting a very hostile reception from Senate Republicans,” he said. “And that’s not a good sign.”

Senate Republican leaders on Friday said they plan to draft their own version of the bill.