Republicans Present Bill to Repeal and Replace Obamacare
By: Steven Morris
The American Health Care Act, also known as the AHCA, was presented by Republicans on March 6,, after weeks of delay and controversy leading up to the announcement.
Before dawn’s early light, 4:00 AM specifically, the two committees that have jurisdiction over health care, the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce, released a 123-page plan that will reform the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”
Per the House GOP’s website, the AHCA would “dismantle the Obamacare taxes,” “eliminate the individual and employer mandate penalties,” “prohibit health insurers from denying coverage,” “modernize and strengthen Medicaid” and so on.
Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2013, the individual and employer mandate has been a huge concern to Republicans, who feel that the government should have a smaller role in health care. AHCA gets rid of the mandate which, according to the GOP website “forced millions of workers, families, and job creators into expensive, inadequate Obamacare plans that they don’t want and cannot afford.”
Even though the AHCA is a bill that will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, there will be aspects of the Affordable Care Act in the American Health Care Act.
One such provision that will be carried over from the Affordable Care Act is the ability for young people to stay on their parent’s health insurance plan until the age of 26.
Another provision of the Affordable Care Act that will carry over to the American Health Care Act is the expansion of Medicaid, which is, according to ssa.gov, “a jointly funded, Federal-State health insurance program for low-income and needy people”.
According to NBC News, some experts believe that the bill will redefine Medicaid
“The AHCA provides a per capita federal contribution to Medicaid starting in 2020. This starts to put the onus back on states to pay rising health care costs for Medicaid enrollees. Supporters of the AHCA say this provides an incentive to keep costs down and gives states flexibility to decide what’s best. Critics say it’s a formula for weakening Medicaid, which currently covers about 70 million people,” an NBC explainer stated.
Though this would carry over to the American Health Care Act, this provision would be scaled back. Per Vox.com, in the year 2020, the “enrollment in the Medicaid expansion will ‘freeze’ and states will no longer be able to sign new enrollees up for the program.”
A recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, written by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and John Hopkins University, argued that the AHCA will have an impact on people with disabilities.
The group of researchers from the two universities specifically point out that the changes to Medicaid that is proposed in the AHCA, will affect people with autism and the people that take care of them.
The editorial, titled “Care for Autism and Other Disabilities – A Future in Jeopardy” points out that Medicaid is the largest health care payer for people with autism and other disabilities. Medicaid currently serves 250,000 children with autism.
Specifically, the change in Medicaid that would affect people with autism and other developmental disabilities is due to the proposal of switching Medicaid from an entitlement program to a block-grant system. What this means, is that instead of Medicaid being openly funded by the federal government, the block-grant program would mean that the federal government would give each State a certain amount of money per-person.
Since the AHCA was unveiled on March 6, there has been criticism of the bill from both sides of the aisle in Congress.
Before the AHCA was released, Rand Paul, a Republican Senator from Kentucky, said in a tweet “Still have not seen an official version of the House Obamacare replacement bill, but from Media reports, this sure looks like Obamacare Lite!”
Another Republican, Michigan Representative Justin Amish, said that the AHCA is “Obamacare 2.0.”
Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader and Democrat house member from California, called the proposal “Make America Sick Again” and “Republicans even enable insurers to once again change more or deny coverage to millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions, abandoning those families who lapse in coverage for any reason at all.”