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Republicans make changes to healthcare bill, soften blow for seniors while allowing Medicaid work requirements

Proposed law also changes Medicaid per capita payments to block grants.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

President Donald Trump meets with Congressional Republicans to discuss the American Health Care Act.President Donald Trump meets with Congressional Republicans to discuss the American Health Care Act.

Ahead of a Thursday vote on the GOP-crafted American Health Care Act, House Republican leadership has introduced a number of amendments to the bill they hope will sway enough votes to secure its passage.

Discussions by the Ways and Means, Budget, and Energy and Commerce committees led to a number of policy changes meant to assuage moderate Republicans skeptical of some of the bill's provisions. One of the changes accelerates the repeal of Affordable Care Act taxes from 2018 to 2017, and improves cost deductions for the elderly, who would be able to deduct anything more than 5.8 percent of their income. Previously that number was set at 10 percent.

Taxpayer dollars will also be barred, through new tax credits and State Stability funds, from being used for abortions.

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Governors will have more flexibility in how they choose to administer Medicaid at the state level, and states would be able to opt out of their per capita allotment baseline, instead receiving funding through a federal block grant. States would also have more leeway in implementing work requirements for adults who receive Medicaid benefits.

[Also: Corporate healthcare companies would see 'credit negative' status under GOP bill]

The annual inflation rate for elderly and disabled Medicaid recipients would increase, and states would no longer be able to opt into the ACA's expansion of Medicaid.

The House also agreed to possibly enhance tax credits for people aged 50 to 64 years old, but didn't specify how much more it would allot.

Other changes are more targeted. In New York, for example, Medicaid costs would be shifted from the state's counties to the state government. That could save county governments outside of New York City $2.3 billion annually, but those costs may be shifted to taxpayers, or perhaps deny the state the same total in matching federal aid if it continues to require those counties to contribute to Medicaid costs.

Twitter: @JELagasse