March 7 2017
In contrast to the Affordable Care Act, which was 2,000 pages long (and generated another 33,000 pages in associated regulations), the American Health Care Act, an alternative to the collapsing ObamaCare system, released by the House Republicans last night, is 100 pages--you can read it here.
It is a sweeping piece of legislation designed to end ObamaCare's individual and employer mandates (fines on people who did not buy health insurance policies or businesses that didn't offer such policies) and repeal the taxes associated with ObamaCare. ObamaCare's subsidies would be replaced with tax credits.
ObamaCare expanded Medicaid for low-income people, and this bill would continue that expansion until 2020. However, the state-federal system of Medicaid funding would be changed. Open-ended federal funding, according to the Fox report, would be altered to reflect a state's enrollment and costs.
The bill would double the amount of money people could contribute to Health Savings Accounts, both giving people more control over how their medical funds are spent and making them aware of the costs of medical services.
House Republicans Kevin Grady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Greg Walden, chairman of Energy and Commerce Committee, have a piece in this morning's Wall Street Journal explaining why they think this is a good alternative to ObamaCare. They write:
Our fiscally responsible plan will lower costs for patients and begin returning control from Washington back to the states, so that they can tailor their health-care systems to their unique communities. The bill will improve access to care and restore the free market, increasing innovation, competition and choice.
. . .
The legislation works to ensure a stable transition away from ObamaCare. It preserves and protects insurance for the more than 150 million Americans who receive employer-sponsored health coverage. It provides ObamaCare enrollees with access to the existing financial support for their plans through the end of 2019. people will also be able to use their ObamaCare subsidy to purchase expanded insurance options—including catastrophic coverage—without being tied to the failing exchanges.
Our plan preserves vital patient protections. Young Americans can continue coverage on their parents’ plans until age 26. People with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied policies. Nobody can be charged more for getting sick—period.
People who have pre-existing medical conditions will be protected, and the bill would create a Patient and State Stability Fund to help low-income people. Brady and Walden write that this would help repair the damage done to state markets by ObamaCare and permit states to develop their own plans. They cite Maine's invisible high-risk pool and Alaska's state-based reinsurance plan as examples of state innovation.
Since the plan was only released last night, we're still waiting to have more in-depth analysis and responses to it.