After holding 50 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it turns out the GOP didn’t have a single plan to replace it. The partisan attack on Obamacare was a political ploy that disregarded the needs and best interests of Americans in need of health care. The GOP has been scrambling to pull together a repeal and replace bill. Yesterday House Republicans finally proposed a bill to repeal (but not yet to replace) the ACA. Is it any good? As LA Times contact reporter Michael Hiltzik puts it, “It’s a nastier, more consumer-unfriendly proposal than even close followers could have expected.”
The ACA repeal bill is actually a series of ACA repeal and replacement budget reconciliation bills collectively titled the American Health Care Act.
Why is the American Health Care Act so bad? It is basically replaces the ACA with tax breaks for the wealthy. Here’s an overview of what the ACA repeal bill would do:
- Dismantle a central element of the Affordable Care Act: the federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid coverage to millions of low income Americans. The bill would also cap the amount of federal money states receive for their Medicaid programs, which could result in healthcare costs shifting to cash-strapped states as well as to Medicaid beneficiaries themselves, the neediest and sickest Americans.
- Provide an age-based tax credit (instead of income-based premium subsidies) that would increase over time regardless of people’s income. In other words, the wealthy would receive an unneeded tax break (at least $346 billion over 10 years going entirely to taxpayers earning more than $200,000), while many lower-income people would be unable to afford healthcare coverage. The Brookings Institution reported that these tax cuts will make it impossible to pay for any Obamacare “replacement” — which has yet to be proposed.
- Defund Planned Parenthood, removing critical health care access (such as birth control, screenings for cervical cancer and mammograms) to low-income people for services entirely unrelated to (and often preventative of) abortion.
- Repeal federal rules that required qualified health plans to provide hospitalization, maternity care, mental health services and other benefits, allowing states to chose to keep these rules (or not) and likely leading to immensely expensive maternity care, if it is available at all.
- Repeal penalties to individual and employer mandates, which almost certainly would lead to healthy individuals (whose premiums are necessary to help defray the costs of sick individuals) dropping insurance and causing a collapse of the insurance markets.
- Offer tax credits, refundable in advance, to people with incomes below $75,000. But those credits will be lower in many cases than the subsidies now offered in the ACA and could potentially pay for insurance that protects only against a catastrophic health event.
- Cut taxes on health insurers, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, tanning (yes, tanning) and a tax on high-cost employer-sponsored group health plans (aka “Cadillac” plans).
This bill is designed to provide the wealthy with tax breaks at the expense of everyone else, including cutting funding for the poor and burdening women. According to the LA Times, the Congressional Budget Office reportedly warned the Republicans that their proposals would lead to lost coverage for millions and higher costs for millions more, but the GOP is pushing ahead anyway. Analyses by Avalere Health and McKinsey of an earlier draft of the bill (which contained many of the same provisions) concluded that it would lead to millions of people losing coverage.
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll in late February, 48% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Obamacare, versus 42 percent viewing the law unfavorably. Members of the Ways and Means Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee will start voting on parts of the repeal bill as early as Wednesday. Although the Affordable Care Act passed only after 79 hearings, 181 witnesses and 121 amendments in the House and 100 hearings, roundtables, walkthroughs and other meetings, plus 25 consecutive days of debate, in the Senate, the current House leadership hopes to get the repeal and replacement legislation through the House in just three weeks and go directly to the floor of the Senate for a vote. We cannot let this bill pass.
CALL TO ACTION
- Call your US representative TODAY and ask them to oppose the ACA repeal bill (the American Health Care Act) on behalf of low-income Americans, women and the millions of people who will lose their health care.
Rep. Rob Bishop (UT01) – D.C. (202) 225-0453, UT (801) 625-0107
Rep. Chris Stewart (UT02) – D.C. (202) 225-9730, UT (801) 364-5550
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT03) – D.C. (202) 225-7751, UT (801) 851-2500
Rep. Mia Love (UT04) – D.C. (202) 225-3011, UT (801) 996-8729
Not sure who your U.S. Representative is? Find out here.
Health Affairs.org: “Examining the House Republican ACA Repeal and Replace Legislation”