House Republicans Introduce American Health Care Act
Earlier this week Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees announced their legislative proposals as part of the American Health Care Act, which seeks to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This is following the introduction of H.R. 1275 into congress on March 1.
The goal of this proposed legislation is to expand Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), provide tax credits to individuals and families who are not ensured through their employers, and establish a Patient and State Stability Fund. According to House Speaker Paul Ryan, the bill will make good on the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, and will successfully lower costs and create greater choice for patients. However, the bill has already received substantial pushback.
Congressional leadership expressed a desire to act quickly —by the time of the Easter break—which is highly unusual for such a complex topic as health care. Reaction to the proposal has been swift, strong and mixed and comes from both sides of the political spectrum and from all corners of the health care industry.
In general, the bill would retain the most popular aspects of the ACA while eliminating the individual mandate to buy insurance, replacing subsidies with tax credits for purchasing insurance, and returning Medicaid to a block grant program for states. The introduction of the bill was not accompanied by an analysis of the overall cost of the changes nor the estimated impact on insurance coverage rates
On March 7th, Dr. James Madara, Executive Vice President and CEO of the American Medical Association sent a letter to members of both the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees expressing concerns surrounding the bill. According to the letter, the AMA is unable to support the bill because they feel that the tax credits described in the bill should be based on income, not age. In addition, they feel the rollback of Medicaid expansion will hurt vulnerable populations.
According to a report published by Modern Healthcare, House Democrats are also pushing back against the new bill, citing that there is little transparency surrounding the cost of the new plan and how it will effect patients. They feel Republicans are rushing to pass the bill without proper review.
CHAP will continue to monitor this story and provide updates as they are made available.