Republican health insurance proposal is bad for Washington state and its citizens.

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WASHINGTON state stands to lose more than $1 billion a year in federal dollars if the House Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act becomes law.

The proposed cure for the Affordable Care Act is worse than the illness. Congress should be focusing on giving more people access to health care for less money — as the president promised — instead of taking insurance away from millions.

A report Monday from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated 24 million Americans would lose health insurance under the GOP plan by 2026. The plan would effectively phase out the expansion of Medicaid, which gave 600,000 more people health insurance in Washington state, mostly the working poor who do not get health insurance at work. State and national analyses indicate the plan would also make health insurance more expensive for many who don’t qualify for free insurance under Medicaid and push them to drop their coverage.

State and federal analyses of the Republican proposal are based on a plan that could change dramatically before a final vote. Based on the vocal opposition to the plan from people and organizations of all stripes, that seems likely, but not guaranteed. Lawmakers need to hear from citizens who don’t want to see the Medicaid expansion rolled back and the cost of insurance increased for many, including people age 60 to 64 who are in line for dramatic rate increases under the GOP plan.

Though some Republicans have cast doubt on the CBO’s conclusions, the venerable nonpartisan agency’s math is unassailable: American citizens will be hurt by this plan.

Congress could change course and improve the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, instead of replacing it with something worse. Or lawmakers could come up with another alternative that helps more people get affordable health insurance, instead of raising rates and cutting access.

The Medicaid expansion should be maintained with federal financial backing. Subsidies for low-income workers who make too much for Medicaid should be expanded so health insurance is more affordable for the middle class.

Also, Congress should explore other ways to save money but not hurt people. Among them are new regulations to trim prescription costs and remove duplicate coverage for people who qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare.

The ACA can be improved; it should not be dismantled.