Ryan on healthcare plan: 'We're right where we want to be'

U.S. House Republicans are working on changes to their health-care overhaul bill that would implement a work requirement for the Medicaid program for the poor, as well as boost tax credits for older, lower income people, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Sunday.

President Donald Trump reiterated his support for the bill Friday amid reports that some of his allies are telling him to distance himself from Ryan and the bill.

It looks like their message is getting through.

When asked about the prospects that the House can pass the bill on Thursday, Ryan said he feels "very good about it".

"We think we should be offering more assistance than the bill now does", for lower-income people age 50 to 64, Ryan said of the tax credits for health insurance that are proposed in the legislation.

It is clear now that the reason the mechanisms in the proposed health care bill do not provide for adequate coverage of those who actually need coverage is that to Republicans, "health care" means "care of the healthy" and that those with chronic health issues are not worthy of care. A Congressional Budget Office review of the bill released on March 13 suggested there would be increases in out-of-pocket costs, especially for older people.

Wallace noted a CBO estimate which said that a 64 year old making less than $27,000 a year will pay $14,600 a year for health insurance instead of the $1,700 they pay now under President Barack Obama's law. That age group tends to have more medical issues than younger adults and, thus, higher insurance costs, and the ACA forbids insurers to charge their oldest customers more than three times their rates for young adults - essentially having young adults cross-subsidize the cost of coverage for older ones.

Senator Tom Cotton, a conservative Arkansas Republican, said the bill would not reduce premiums for people on the private insurance market.

The GOP bill as now written offers a fixed tax credit for low- and middle-income Americans that rises by age.

But Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who has worked closely with the hard-right bloc in the House, said on "This Week" that the bill was still short of a majority.

"I would say, this is the very, very beginning of the budget process", he said. He also blasted ObamaCare, noting the legislation won't last.

"We are making fine-tuning improvements to the bill to reflect people's concerns, to reflect people's improvements", he said. "And the point I would say is, we're going to let people buy what they want to buy".

  • Joanne Flowers