House Republicans introduced a draft of a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, yesterday (March 6).
As Vox reports, it is still unclear how many people it will cover with medical insurance or how much it will cost the nation. But The Washington Post reports that four Republican senators already oppose the plan because it will halt the expansion of Medicaid. In a statement issued yesterday, Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Rob Portman (R-OH), wrote:
We are concerned that any poorly implemented or poorly timed change in the current funding structure in Medicaid could result in a reduction in access to life-saving health care services.… As the largest payer of mental health and substance use services in the United States, it is critical that any health care replacement provide states with a stable transition period and the opportunity to gradually phase-in their populations to any new Medicaid financing structure.
Meanwhile, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has been extremely vocal about his feeling that the plan does not go far enough to change Obamacare:
Th House leadership plan is Obamacare Lite. It will not pass. Conservarives are not going to take it. #FullRepeal
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 7, 2017
If the American Health Care Act does pass in its current form, it would:
- Eliminate the mandate that requires all Americans to maintain coverage, but require people with a lapse in coverage to pay higher premiums for a full year
- Effectively increase health costs for low-income Americans
- Block Medicaid funding for any organization that “provides for abortions,” even for people seeking other health services
- Keep the provision that requires companies to insure people with preexisting conditions
- Preserve the provision that lets people stay on their parents’ insurance through age 26
- Freeze Medicaid enrollment on January 1, 2020, eventually cutting millions of low-income Americans off from medical care—59 percent of people who count on Medicaid are people of color
- Keep ban on lifetime and annual coverage limits
- Let companies charge the oldest enrollees up to five times more than the youngest ones
Digest the full text of the 123-page bill here. In the meantime, read three key organizations’ responses to the plan:
Ron Pollack, executive director affordable health care advocacy group Families USA:
The GOP health care proposal would be laughable if its consequences weren’t so devastating. This bill would strip coverage from millions of people and drive up consumer costs. It shreds the Medicaid social safety net that serves more than 72 million people, including many children, senior citizens and people with disabilities. And it once again leaves millions of people in America with chronic illness and disease at the mercy of insurance companies. And they’re doing this without knowing the bill’s full impact on the federal budget. Donald Trump promised that ‘we’re going to have insurance for everybody . . . [but it will be] much less expensive and much better.’ This bill reveals those promises for what they always were: empty campaign rhetoric. The President doesn’t seem to understand that millions of lives are at stake here. We all deserve better.
Health care provider Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards:
To be clear, no federal funding goes towards abortion in the first place. “Defunding” Planned Parenthood would block millions of people in this country from accessing birth control, cancer screenings and preventive care. For many patients, Planned Parenthood is the only health care provider they see. Blocking access to care at Planned Parenthood hurts communities that are struggling to get by the most, especially those with low incomes, those living in areas with no other quality health care providers, and communities of color who face systemic barriers to care.
Nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation associate director, Cynthia Cox:
— Cynthia Cox (@cynthiaccox) March 7, 2017