Jackson County residents have reason to watch carefully as Congress begins debating House Republicans' proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The proposal has far-reaching implications for the county's economy, and lower-income residents stand to pay more for health coverage starting in 2020.

The replacement plan would generally benefit younger, higher-income people and leave older, poorer Americans worse off. It also would phase out the expansion of Medicaid, starting in 2020.

This is especially significant in Rep. Greg Walden's 2nd Congressional District. Walden is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of two panels working on the replacement plan.

An analysis by House Democrats shows 129,000 residents of Walden's district joined Medicaid under the ACA — the largest number of any Republican district in the country. The Medicaid expansion also was a boon to the medical industry in the Rogue Valley.

The Republican proposal would replace the income-determined subsidies with an age-based system of tax credits that also takes income into account. An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows Jackson County residents who are younger and more affluent will see a larger tax credit, while older, less well off residents will see their tax credits shrink.

It seems House Republicans were determined to change Obamacare just because it is Obamacare. It's hard to see how their plan improves the existing system. It shifts benefits to those who need them less, while putting Medicaid clients — the most vulnerable of all — at risk.