The Latest: House panels start work on GOP health care bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the health care debate as Congress begins work on a GOP-drafted overhaul (all times EST):

10:35 a.m.

Two House committees have started Congress’ first working sessions to formally write Republican legislation to dismantle former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. The legislation would restructure the nation’s health care system with a more conservative, market-oriented approach.

The Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees are both are likely to debate and vote on the measures all day.

The GOP-written proposal they are considering is supported by President Donald Trump. But they face strong objections from conservatives and concerns from moderate Republicans. No support is likely from Democrats.

Republican leaders hope to get the bill through the House by April. Its Senate prospects are less certain.

The legislation would repeal Obama’s penalties on people who don’t buy coverage. It would replace them with tax credits, and would curb Medicaid.


10:25 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is defending the House Republican health care plan in the face of growing opposition from conservatives and medical professionals.

Ryan told reporters on Wednesday that the choice is to stay with the Affordable Care Act or “do what we said we would do.”

Republicans have promised for seven years to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Ryan says the bill is a conservative wish list, including eliminating funds for Planned Parenthood.

Ryan’s comments came as several conservative members have expressed opposition. On Wednesday, the American Medical Association announced its opposition to the bill.


9:25 a.m.

The American Medical Association says it won’t support the proposed health care plan as drafted by congressional Republicans.

The nation’s largest physicians group says the proposal is critically flawed and a threat to coverage for poor and sick people in the United States.

The AMA has sent a letter to congressional leaders outlining the organization’s concerns about the plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

The AMA says the proposed rollback in Medicaid expansion is especially worrisome. The group notes that the expansion has helped many states cope with rising demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment related to the opioid crisis.

The letter asks Congress to do all that’s “possible to ensure that those who care currently covered do not become uninsured.”