A package to scale back the government’s role in healthcare, reduce costs, and increase patient choice has been delivered to the floor of Congress. Many have waited for this day to bring truly affordable medical care to all Americans.
The original ACA law of 2010 is 906 pages, with 20,000 additional pages of regulations added later. The newly created American Health Care Act is 123 pages which repeal, replace, and retain parts of the original ACA.
The plan repeals the penalty for those who are uninsured. Taxes on the higher income brackets and insurance companies would also be repealed.
Income-based subsidies would be replaced with age-based tax credits, deleting those for higher-earning people. These refundable tax credits range from $2,000 to $14,000 for families. Even those people with no tax liability would receive payments. Insurers would be required to increase premiums by 30% for those who let their plans lapse. A tax on expensive employer-funded health plans would take effect in 2025.
Medicaid expansion, which was passed in 31 states, would be kept on until 2020. After that, states would no longer receive additional federal funds. The entire Medicaid program would be changed, limiting federal funding to states based on enrollment and costs. The states are reluctant to see this funding reduced.
The popular patient protections in the ACA for those with under 26 and patients with pre-existing conditions will be retained.
The Congressional Budget Office has not yet released its official cost estimates for the new bill. The projections could win over wary Congressmen.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says this bill will “drive down costs, encourage competition, and give every American access to quality, affordable health insurance”. At least he calls it insurance instead of healthcare, as coverage is not the same as care.
Fram, Alan and Alonzo-Zaldivar, Ricardo. “House GOP releases bill replacing Obama health care overhaul.” Health. ABC News, 7 Mar 2017. Web. 7 Mar 2017.