House's health care bill meets GOP skeptics in Senate

'They are probably going to look at alternatives'

House's health care bill meets GOP...

Pennsylvania's two United States senators said they can't wait to dig in to the American Health Care Act.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is part of a 13-man working group crafting a Senate version of the bill.

Political experts said it will likely be a major makeover.

"Senators that are Republicans have expressed grave doubts about the House bill," said Chris Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown. "They are probably going to look at alternatives for their approach to reform that might not resemble some of the things that are in the House bill."

While it's unclear what, if anything, will survive of the bill, the portion that deals with preexisting conditions is getting a lot of play on social media.

The bill, as it stands now, would allow states to let insurers charge people with preexisting conditions higher premiums. Those states would then use money from a $100 billion pool to help defray the cost.

So what's on the list? Life-threatening conditions like cancer, heart disease and HIV AIDS to domestic violence and rape. Issues experienced mostly by children are also included, like asthma and acne.

The list was put together by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which also estimates the $100 billion will not be enough to cover the higher premiums, but bill supporters say it will reduce premiums for most Americans.

Toomey said the bill is an important first step to replacing Obamacare.

"Senator Toomey wants to make sure that people with very expensive, chronic illnesses have access to the health care they need," said a Toomey spokesman. "The manner in which this can be done includes, but is not limited to, the use of state-based risk pools as well as extending the incentives for individuals to maintain credible coverage, which already exist in employer-sponsored market, to the individual market."

But Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, said the passage of the House bill and the possibility of a preexisting conditions clause was a gut punch to the American people.

"It is equally disturbing that the bill opens the door to turning Medicare into a voucher program," he said. "President Trump promised not to touch Medicaid or Medicare and has betrayed those promises by supporting this bill. Instead of going along with far right congressional Republicans, President Trump should have worked in a bipartisan way to make health care more affordable for middle class families."

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Allentown, PA 18102


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