Congressional Republicans Announce Probable Starting Point for the ACA’s Replacement

This week a group of Republican Senators unveiled the “Patient Freedom Act” (PFA), which will likely be the initial framework for the “replace” part of their effort to “repeal-and-replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Spearheaded by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), the PFA preserves a number of the ACA’s more popular provisions (such as the prohibition on pre-existing conditions) while also offering individual states flexibility with regard to health insurance and health care generally, including—if they choose—maintaining the ACA status quo.

The PFA has detractors on both sides of the aisle. Very pro-ACA Democrats do not like its attempt to kill the ACA, while very anti-ACA Republicans don’t think it goes far enough in that effort. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), for example, has offered his own alternative, parts of which may or may not be incorporated into the final package. And, in a largely symbolic gesture, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), has filed legislation that simply repeals the ACA altogether without offering any alternatives at all.

The PFA’s critics notwithstanding, the “something-for-everyone” nature of the PFA makes it the most likely vehicle for ACA reform, and President Trump made clear at the GOP retreat in Philadelphia (and elsewhere) that the “replace” is just as important as the “repeal.”

The GOP has set a soft deadline of April of this year to have it’s ACA replacement ready for the president’s signature. We will keep you posted as they move toward that goal.

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