The House of Representative passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) yesterday. That will not be news to anyone who reads The Rugged Individualist. The next major hurdle is Senate Republicans, not Senate Democrats – although Senate Democrats may not all be “no” votes. That Obamacare is teetering on the brink of collapse no longer matters. One way or another it will go into the trash bin of history where it belongs.
There probably isn’t a single Republican Party representative, senator, or even party member who is completely happy with the AHCA. But many who “are unsatisfied” are not really sure what’s in it. Hopefully they are not like Nancy Pelosi who informed Americans at the time Obamacare was coming up for a vote that “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
No one read the entire Obamacare Bill before the vote. It was 2700 pages in length. The AHCA is a mere 126 pages in length. And the regulations for Obamacare are 30 times longer than the law itself.
Here are several things worth knowing about the AHCA [Source: Ten things you need to know about the House GOP health care bill, by Eric Pianin]:
Partial summary of the AHCA [Modified from the Pianin article]:
- The plan eliminates most Obamacare mandates. There is no longer a tax penalty for failing to purchase health insurance (the individual mandate). The “tanning booth tax” is repealed – it was, after all the dumbest thing ever! However, a few popular provisions will be preserved, including allowing children to remain on their parents’ health insurance policies until age 26 – not popular with me but it was generally popular.
- It will replace Obamacare’s premium subsidies for low and middle-income people with a “refundable” tax credit plan. This will assist many Americans when buying insurance on the open market. The highest support level will go to older Americans (but too young for Medicare) who will face higher premiums and medical costs than younger, healthier people – you know, the way insurance is supposed to be.
- The bill ends the multiple tax increases in Obamacare including a 3.8 percent tax on investment income and a 0.9 percent hike on income over $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly. The ridiculous Obamacare tax on medical devices also ends. The AHCA does away with Obamacare taxes that add up to $883 billion over the coming decade.
- States can now opt out of two draconian mandates in Obamacare. First is the requirement of insurers to provide consumers with 10 “essential benefits” – so 63 year-old men will not have to buy pregnancy care and mammograms. Insurers can now scale back those “essential benefits” to reduce premiums and bolster sales to younger, healthier consumers who don’t need or want many of those benefits. States can also opt out of requiring insurers to charge people with pre-existing medical conditions the same premium as those without (the main reason so many Obamacare exchanges went belly up). House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump insist that the compromise amendment (drafted by Rep. Tom MacArthur) would preserve the ban on price discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions. (Critics state that the > $130 billion that the AHCA sets aside to subsidize risk pools for Americans with preexisting conditions would be inadequate – as if Congress never added money to a spending package when it was necessary.
- The expanded Medicaid program would be phased out. The Affordable Care Act expanded traditional Medicaid to cover able-bodied single adults making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Medicaid changes in other significant ways. The AHCA transforms medicaid from an entitlement to a block grant. States for the first time would receive a lump sum instead of a per-capita payment for Medicaid patients. States will also be granted more leeway to alter eligibility requirements, such as imposing work requirements for able-bodied people. There are 72,000,000 individuals in the United States enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). When the Democrats say that 14,000,000 Americans will be “thrown off the healthcare rolls” they are talking about the 14,000,000 Obamacare added to Medicaid!
- When fully implemented, members of Congress will be subject to the terms of the bill. Members of Congress received special treatment under Obamacare, including top of the line coverage and substantial premium subsidies. House members amended the bill before final passage on Thursday to remove their special treatment from the bill.
Hope this helps.