Republicans in Congress introduced the American Health Care Act on Monday, drawing disappointment and disgust from several factions in Washington.
Touted as the replacement to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the bill is being panned by Democrats who argue it will result in fewer people covered and higher out-of-pocket costs.
More of a concern for Republican leadership, fellow conservatives are also deriding the legislation. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) described the proposal as “Obamacare Lite.” Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) called it “Obamacare 2.0.”
The highly influential rightwing think tank, the Heritage Foundation also tweeted: “The new GOP plan is bad politics and, more importantly, bad policy.”
Ruffling conservatives, the GOP’s proposal contains several Obamacare provisions. It prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions. It also allows young adults under the age of 26 to remain on their parent’s health insurance plans.
The basic structure of Obamacare also remains intact under the new bill—with tweaks. It removes the individual mandate, but penalizes those who go without health insurance for a few weeks, by making them pay a surcharge on their next policy—essentially shifting penalty revenue away from government coffers and into health insurance company treasuries.
Instead of offering subsidies to help lower income Americans purchase health insurance, the Republican plan provides tax credits that increase as an individual gets older, and decrease as their income grows.
But while older Americans would receive increasing tax credits to purchase plans, insurance companies would also be allowed to charge elderly policyholders five times more than younger customers.
“Writing checks to individuals to purchase insurance is, in principle, Obamacare,” the Republican Study Committee, said in a critical report on the bill.
During a press conference on Tuesday, however, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) urged his colleagues to fall in line. “We can act now or we can keep fiddling around and squander this opportunity,” he said.
President Trump also came out in support of the bill. “Our wonderful new Healthcare Bill is now out for review and negotiation. ObamaCare is a complete and total disaster – is imploding fast!” he tweeted on Tuesday.
The bill does not include a popular GOP policy of allowing health insurance companies to sell plans across state lines. The measure is expected to be included in later iterations of the legislation. It also has not officially been scored to determine cost.
Angering Democrats, the Medicaid expansion provisions in the ACA would stay in place through 2020 before being phased out. Funding for the Medicaid program would also be further slashed beyond the sunset.
A raft of taxes on wealthier Americans that helped finance Obamacare would also be repealed. In addition, the bill would defund Planned Parenthood for one year and strip Medicaid from lottery winners.
Also under the Republicans’ plan, insurance companies would no longer have to meet minimum policy standards in order to compete on exchanges, which could result in the proliferation of high-deductible, low-coverage plans. To counter this, the bill would allow Americans to increase the amount they’re allowed to contribute to health savings accounts.
Democrats have largely characterized the package as woefully inadequate. In a joint statement Monday, for example, Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said: “the Republican repeal bill would 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.”
They added that the proposal is “contrary to everything President Trump has said he would do with his health care plan.”
Briefly, we wanted to update you on where Truthout stands this month.
To be brutally honest, Truthout is behind on our fundraising goals for the year. There are a lot of reasons why. We’re dealing with broad trends in our industry, trends that have led publications like Vice, BuzzFeed, and National Geographic to make painful cuts. Everyone is feeling the squeeze of inflation. And despite its lasting importance, news readership is declining.
To ensure we stay out of the red by the end of the year, we have a long way to go. Our future is threatened.
We’ve stayed online over two decades thanks to the support of our readers. Because you believe in the power of our work, share our transformative stories, and give to keep us going strong, we know we can make it through this tough moment.
At this moment, we have 72 hours left in our important fundraising campaign, and we still must raise $31,000. Please consider making a donation today.