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 at the expense of women, people with disabilities and low income people. The result is a plan with less benefits that actually costs MORE than the the ACA. 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).
- Although a last-minute amendment in the House proposes a medical tax deduction for people between the ages of 50 and 64 (which the Senate would need to implement) to help offset skyrocketing premium costs under the AHCA, this amendment would worsen insurance access for Medicaid beneficiaries by allowing states to establish work requirements for Medicaid enrollees. To add insult to injury, the amendment would hasten the repeal of ACA-related taxes, again disproportionately benefiting wealthier constituents.
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 U.S. 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. Be sure to mention that you are a constituent (if you reach voice mail, leave your full name and address with zip code to be sure your call is counted). Tell them your personal reasons why you believe the ACA should not be repealed and why Medicaid should not be cut or block funded. Please note that Reps. Stewart and Love have said they will vote “yes” on the AHCA, while Reps. Chaffetz and Bishop are still reportedly “undecided”. Let’s help these congresspeople make up their minds to oppose the AHCA!
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.