Well, the American Health Care Act, H.R. 1628, passed the House and off to the Senate. That only means there will be more digging into the details to determine its destiny. This is particularly the case with more than a few parts of the AHCA. This process is becoming more and more complex for the average person to follow.
Yet, let’s give it a try by checking out some links to read. I will then provide a brief summary or quote of each article or report. I encourage you to read the entire bill and do your own homework on this to help us all understand what the American people want to come out at the end.
First, according to Robert Pear, What’s in the AHCA: The Major Provisions of the Republican Health Bill, New York Times (5/4/2017), “The House health care bill . . . would roll back the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, eliminate tax penalties for people who do not have health insurance and end taxes on certain high-income people, insurers, drug companies and manufacturers of medical devices to finance the current health law.” Basically, for those with no insurance, including Medicare or Medicaid, people would be offered $2,000 to $4,000 per year in tax credits by age. The credit would be reduced for individuals making over $75,000 a year and families making over $150,000.
Insurers will be able to charge older adults up to five times (previously three times) what is charged to young adults. Medicaid would no longer be an open-ended entitlement to healthcare and would put the program on a budget; and there would be Medicaid cuts over a ten year period. States would also receive allotments per beneficiary.
To encourage people to buy insurance, insurers can impose a 30 percent surcharge on premiums for those who experience a gap in coverage. States could also opt out of certain ACA provisions, such as requiring insurers to provide a minimum set of health benefits and opt out of prohibition from charging higher premiums based on a person’s health status.
Higher premiums to sick people would not be allowed unless a state had a high-risk pool or a reinsurance program, to cover people with serious illnesses. ACHA will provide states with $138 billion over 10 years to be used to subsidize premiums, provide coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, and pay for mental healthcare and drug addiction treatment.
According to Jeff Byers and Shannon Muchmore, House passes AHCA, Senate to draft its own ACA repeal bill (May 4, 2017, Healthcare Dive), “. . . the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Hospital Association (AHA) oppose the AHCA. ‘The bill passed by the House today will result in millions of Americans losing access to quality, affordable health insurance and those with pre-existing health conditions face the possibility of going back to the time when insurers could charge them premiums that made access to coverage out of the question,’ AMA President Andrew Gurman stated after the vote . . . ‘The bill "needs important improvements to better protect low- and moderate-income families who rely on Medicaid or buy their own coverage,’ AHIP President and CEO Marilyn Tavenner said.”
An earlier article by Paul Demko, White House analysis of Obamacare repeal sees even deeper insurance losses than CBO (Politico, 3/13/2017), supposedly the White House forecasted 26 million people would lose coverage over the next decade, versus the 24 million Congressional Budget Office estimates. “The White House and congressional Republicans have aggressively sought to undercut the CBO projection by pointing to how far off its coverage estimates for the Affordable Care Act ultimately proved. The nonpartisan budget office predicted that 21 million individuals would gain coverage through the exchange markets in 2016, but only about half that many actually enrolled.”
Again, it seems the estimates on both sides of what may or may not happen don’t match up yet. In part two, the focus will be on more of the government’s perspective, along with the more conservative arena, such as the Heritage Foundation. Certain key conservative Congressmen also see some concerns along with the positives. The hope is these concerns will be worked out in the Senate, and the positives will prove themselves with time.
In the meantime, ask yourself how you can be part of the healthcare solution for your nation and your family. See you in part two.