Health Care

Ryan Joins Opponents of GOP Health-Care Law

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan characterizes the Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act as “dangerous” and “misguided” yesterday.

Ryan, D-13 Ohio, joined a chorus of critics – from both ends of the political spectrum — of the American Health Care Act, which GOP lawmakers introduced Tuesday.

The Republican alternative to the law also known as Obamacare preserved the earlier law’s provisions that prevented insurers from excluding individuals with pre-existing conditions and allowed children to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26. However, it would cut funding to states to pay for Medicaid expansion and allow insurers to charge older individuals more.

Opponents to the GOP health-care proposal include the American Medical Association and groups representing the nation’s hospitals, as well as AARP and conservative groups including Heritage Action for America, FreedomWorks and Club for Growth.

While Ryan agrees there are issues with the health-care system that need fixed, he said Republican’s attempt to “repeal and insufficiently replace” Obamacare will only make matters worse. Ending the Medicare expansion will cause at least 11 million Americans to lose their coverage and hurt the 70 million who rely on Medicare for their health care, and defunding Planned Parenthood which the law also calls for – would further restrict women’s access to comprehensive health care.

“I am willing to work together in a bipartisan fashion to make our current system better and stronger. But House Republicans have introduced dangerous legislation that shows they have no interest in expanding access and improving the health of every American,” he said in a statement.

“It would throw millions off their health insurance, while increasing the cost and decreasing benefits for the working class families,” he continued. “To make matters worse, Republicans are jamming this bill through multiple committees in just two days, giving the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office no time to report on this bill’s devastating effects on coverage and cost and refusing our citizens a chance to have their voices heard.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, told NPR listeners Tuesday that he is “all for repealing and replacing” Obamacare.

“I live in one of the regions of the country where people have been the most disenfranchised. Many people that I know were booted off of their plans, lost access to their doctors,” Johnson said. “And when you live in a rural area like Appalachia, now you have to drive 35, 40 miles to get to a doctor that you did not choose but that was chosen for you. And someone else tells that doctor what kind of tests and prescription drugs you can be administered — that’s not access to affordable health care.”

On Monday, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, joined three GOP colleagues in a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to outline their concern that the draft health-care plan doesn’t adequately protect individuals and families in Medicaid Expansion programs or provide necessary flexibility for states.

“We are concerned that any poorly implemented or poorly timed change in the current funding structure in Medicaid could result in a reduction in access to life-saving health-care services,” the senators wrote.

“The Medicaid population includes a wide range of beneficiaries, many of which cycle on and off Medicaid due to frequent changes in income, family situations, and living environments,” the letter continued.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that nearly a third of individuals covered under the Medicaid expansion have a mental health or substance use disorder, they said.

“As the largest payer of mental health and substance use services in the United States, it is critical that any health care replacement provide states with a stable transition period and the opportunity to gradually phase-in their populations to any new Medicaid financing structure,” the senators said.

One of the states that accepted Medicaid expansion under ACA was Ohio, under Gov. John Kasich.

“What I have to do now is deal with the fact that most of the people that were placed on Medicaid expansion, Medicaid under that expansion rule, or move, are from my district. And we can’t leave them behind. This has got to work for all Americans,” Johnson said.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.