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Guthrie: Misinformation, Exaggerations Circulating on GOP Health Plan

Kevin Willis

A Kentucky Congressman is speaking out against what he calls misconceptions about his party’s proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act. 

Brett Guthrie, a Bowling Green Republican, says that under the American Health Care Act, everyone with pre-existing conditions will have coverage. 

In an interview with WKU Public Radio Tuesday, Rep. Guthrie said the GOP plan would put people with pre-existing conditions who are priced out of the market into a subsidized high-risk pool.  Guthrie added that states can then apply for waivers to lower costs for those with pre-existing conditions.

"People with pre-existing conditions will be in a pool together, which takes them out of the insurance pool, so it lowers premiums for people buying on the individual market," Guthrie explained.  "The high risk pool will be subsidized and we just added another eight billion dollars to the subsidy."

The liberal health advocacy group Families USA says another $8 billion would do little to improve the high-risk pools.  Some Democratic lawmakers have said the GOP proposal leaves Americans with pre-existing conditions just as vulnerable as they were before the extra money was added to the subsidy. 

Guthrie stated that the GOP plan keeps some provisions of the ACA by allowing young Americans to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26 years old.  The measure also retains Obama-era Medicare protections and Rep. Guthrie said no one over 65 will be impacted by the GOP measure. 

Guthrie also said the Medicaid expansion will remain in place, but states will receive fewer federal dollars for the program.

"Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government pays the state of Kentucky 70 cents on the dollar for someone who is disabled, or a child, or an elderly person.  For an able-bodied adult, the federal government pays 90 cents on the dollar," explained Guthrie.  "We're just treating able-bodied adults like everyone else, so they can maintain the expansion, but not at 90 percent federal, but at 70 percent federal."

A Congressional Budget Office analysis of the legislation determined that $880 billion could be cut from Medicaid over ten years, but Republicans argue money will be saved by giving states waivers that will let them customize their Medicaid programs for their unique needs. 

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has requested a waiver that would charge Medicaid recipients small monthly premiums and make vision and dental coverage dependent upon going to school, applying for jobs, or volunteering.

The measure to repeal and replace Obamacare still needs approval from the U.S. Senate.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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