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The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

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ACA Replacement Could Spell Trouble for 500,000 in Mass.

Brian Rosman with Health Care For All estimates at least a half-million Bay State residents would see their health coverage end, or be greatly reduced, under the GOP's replacement plan. (Health Care For All)
Brian Rosman with Health Care For All estimates at least a half-million Bay State residents would see their health coverage end, or be greatly reduced, under the GOP's replacement plan. (Health Care For All)
March 8, 2017

BOSTON – It has a new name and President Donald Trump's endorsement, but one local watchdog group says the GOP's Affordable Care Act replacement could end or reduce health care for at least a half-million people in Massachusetts. The plan would end the mandate to purchase insurance, and instead rely on offering people tax credits for buying health coverage.

Brian Rosman, director of policy and government relations for Health Care For All Massachusetts, says that's a far cry from Obamacare, because it cuts subsidies that help many with their insurance purchases and at the same time, rolls back Medicaid expansion for lower-income families.

"Roughly half a million people get coverage from programs that will be ending or dramatically reduced; and hundreds of thousands more are under threat, due to the restructuring of the Medicaid program," he explained.

Members of the U.S. House from Massachusetts, Rep. Joe Kennedy and Rep. Richard Neal, each sit on committees that start the mark-up process on the bill tomorrow, and both say they will oppose it.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is defending the GOP's "American Health Care Act," calling it a "work in progress."

Gov. Charlie Baker has pledged to make up any cuts to Planned Parenthood under the Republican plan, but Rosman says they're just the start of what he calls "a larger assault" on women's health.

"Not only does Planned Parenthood get cut, they also prohibit people with plans through the (Health) Connector from buying any coverage, private coverage, that includes abortion," he said. "That, we think, is going to hurt women."

While President Trump has endorsed the plan, it is coming under attack from some Republicans. Rosman says for the New England states overall, it signals a radical departure for health coverage.

"For a decade in Massachusetts, we have had bipartisan support for a fundamental contract that everybody should have affordable health insurance; and this would break that contract," Rosman added.

Rosman says the GOP plan would also impose an extra surcharge for people who get insurance after they've had a gap in coverage. A House vote could come as early as March 20. 

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA