The House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act last Thursday. Now it is heading to the Senate for a vote. Surprisingly, House Republicans came together over a bill after a failure to pass the AHCA last month on the anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
The issue last month was primarily with the House Freedom Caucus, who believed that the bill was “Obamacare Lite.” Essentially, it wasn’t fiscally conservative enough to gain their support. This time around, Freedom Caucus members got on board. But how did the bill move to the right?
This bill strips the requirements from Obamacare, leaving many essential components in the bill up to the states. The Republican plan allows states to waive the Obamacare requirements that insurance companies cover this list of pre-existing conditions. With this new plan, depending on what state you live in, if you have cancer, diabetes, or asthma (for example), you may not be able to receive healthcare coverage.
In addition, the AHCA gives states the opportunity to opt out of essential health benefit requirements that the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover. These benefits include mental health care and maternity coverage.
The Republican plan brings back federally funded high risk pools, which are intended to ease the costs to insurers for high risk patients. However, these were underfunded in the past. With only $8 billion in federal funds promised to high risk pools, states will have to make up the difference.
Finally, the AHCA cuts $800 billion from Medicaid coverage, ending Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion by 2020. Currently, Medicaid covers around 70 million people. This will drop by 25% by 2026.
There’s no individual mandate in the plan. Small businesses are not required to insure their employees. Tax credits are based upon age. In the end, the number of uninsured will almost certainly rise.
This is not a good bill for anyone who cannot afford to get sick.
This bill was built on a mountain of falsehoods, but perhaps none greater than the idea that the Affordable Care Act is a “disaster.” Of course, Obamacare is not perfect, but it is ridiculous to suggest that the bill has not worked in any capacity. The bill has insured 20 million more Americans, and while overall costs are up, they are going up at a much slower rate than before the bill’s passage. There is no public option, but the Affordable Care Act is helping more poor people pay for healthcare.
This is a strange hill for Republicans and Donald Trump to die on, taking coverage from Americans. What are the Republicans doing? This bill signals to their business wing and their ideological base that helping people afford care is not important to them. They are committed to undoing Obama’s legacy. This callous bill is a product of politics, not care.
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