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Republican senators propose first ACA replacement bill

[JURIST] US Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) [official profiles] on Monday introduced the 2017 Patient Freedom Act [text, PDF] as their proposed health care bill amidst the Republican movement to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) [materials]. While acknowledging room for improvement, the senators have presented [bill summary, PDF] their bill as a way to increase access to health care by restoring authority to the states. The bill would promote [Fox News report] price transparency and repeal certain federal mandates deemed too strict while preserving essential elements of the ACA such as certain consumer protections and the ability for young adults to stay on their parents' plans until turning 26 years old. States would also have the option of either re-implementing the ACA or designing alternative solutions with or without federal assistance, a feature which the senators hope will help the bill garner votes from Democrats. The bill's plan would take about three years to be fully implemented. The bill in its current state must be considered against pending alternatives from other Republicans including Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Georgia Representative Tom Price [official profiles], the current pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services [official website].

Swiftly after being sworn in on Friday, US President Donald Trump [official website] signed an executive order [JURIST report] aimed at repealing the ACA. The Senate had prepared for the repealing of the ACA earlier this month when it voted 51-48 [JURIST report] to prevent the process from being subject to a filibuster. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was active before the election in opposing Trump's proposed repeal of the ACA. Earlier this month the ACLU filed a motion [JURIST report] to stay a federal court order preventing the federal government from enforcing an ACA regulation that protects transgender people and women from discrimination in health care. On the same day the Secretary of Health and Human Services warned [JURIST report] that a repeal of the ACA without an immediate replace would create a dangerous situation for American healthcare. GOP congressional leaders have recently acknowledged that repealing the ACA too quickly without a sufficient replacement plan may leave an estimated 20 million Americans uninsured.

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