It looks like Republican lawmakers have finally come up with a plan to repeal and replace the landmark health care law enacted by ex-president Barack Obama. But, the plan still faces significant obstacles.
GOP members introduced their plans to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” on Monday, March 6, stripping away the purchase mandate and instead offering tax credits to encourage the purchasing of health care. The Republican plan would revamp the nation’s Medicaid system so that states receive a set amount of funding from the federal government each month, CNN reported. Experts warned that these changes would leave millions without access to insurance they secured under ACA.
House Speaker Paul Ryan lauded the passage of the new American Health Care Act, saying Obamacare was “rapidly collapsing” and needed to be done away with.
“The American Health Care Act is a plan to drive down costs, encourage competition and give every American access to quality, affordable health insurance,” Ryan said in a statement. “It protects young adults, patients with pre-existing conditions, and provides a stable transition so that no one has the rug pulled out from under them”
White House spokesman Sean Spicer argued that Obamacare, which provided more than 20 million uninsured Americans with health coverage, was a “disaster” that resulted in “fewer options, inferior care and skyrocketing costs.”
“Today marks an important step toward restoring health care choices and affordability back to the American people,” Spicer said. “President Trump looks forward to working with both chambers of Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
Though Republicans have repeatedly deemed the Affordable Care Act a complete failure, they chose to retain three key provisions, including the ban on denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, the restriction on lifetime coverage caps and the rule allowing young people to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, according to The New York Times.
The new measure would eliminate the requirement for larger employers to offer health coverage to their full-time employees and scrap the controversial ACA provision requiring citizens to have insurance or face a fine. This provision was added to drive more young and healthy people to purchase insurance to balance having more people with ailments having health care through the ACA.
Instead, the Republications chose to add hefty penalties to people who allow their health care policies to lapse, as health insurers would be able to hike their premiums as high as 30 percent. This new penalty with tax credits is supposed to encourage the purchasing and retaining of health care insurance. So, instead of penalizing citizens for NOT having insurance, the GOP’s new plan would fine them for allowing it to lapse.
The American Health Care Act would cut funding to Planned Parenthood clinics for up to one year. President Trump offered to maintain federal funds to the clinics but only if they promised to stop performing abortions.
“As I said throughout the campaign, I’m pro-life and I’m deeply committed to investing in women’s health and plan to significantly increase federal funding in support of non-abortion services, such as cancer screenings,” the president said in an interview with The New York Times this week.” … There is an opportunity for organizations [like Planned Parenthood] to continue the important work they do in support of women’s health — while not providing abortion services.”
Democrats have condemned the new American Health Care Act as a Republicans ploy to strip millions of Americans of their health coverage.
“Republicans will force tens of millions of families to pay more for worse coverage — and push millions of Americans off of health coverage completely,” said Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California.
Democratic Reps. Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Richard Neal of Massachusetts, who sat on the two House committees that crafted Obamacare, echoed Pelosi’s sentiments. Pallone and Neal contended that the American Health Care Act would essentially “rip health care away from millions of Americans, ration care for working families and seniors, and put insurance companies back in charge of health care decisions — contrary to everything President Trump has said he would do with his health care plan.”
House Republicans still face significant obstacles from fellow Republicans in getting the bill passed. Conservative Republicans have called the plan Obamacare-lite as the new plan largely retains the structure of Obamacare, keeping a number of key provisions that they would have liked to see go. Moderate Republicans are barking at the phase out of Medicaid expansion by 2020, which they say will leave millions of their constituents without coverage.