Republicans finally unveiled their “repeal and replace” of Obamacare. It’s a lousy package that won’t please anyone–not even Republicans.
What’s going on?
Yesterday afternoon and evening, it came out that the new GOP healthcare plan had arrived. Called the American Health Care Act, it keeps some of the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), while eliminating others.
The highlights, such as they are:
- Phasing out of the Medicaid expansion by 2020. This will kick millions of poor people off their insurance.
- Elimination of the individual mandate, replaced by a 30% surcharge to be assessed if you have more than a two-month gap without insurance.
- Replacement of the marketplace subsidy system with refundable tax credits.
- Defunding of Planned Parenthood even though PP is already forbidden from using federal funds for abortion services.
Major provisions like the ability to keep children on their parents’ plans until age 26, coverage for pre-existing conditions, and some of the taxes used to fund the law are kept under the GOP replacement.
As currently written, the American Health Care Act does little to alleviate the ACA’s problems, merely satisfying a few long-standing ideological quibbles.
Why is it important?
There are many unknowns at this point. Republicans have no idea how much their replacement law will cost–it was unveiled to the public without the Congressional Budget Office being given a chance to score it. No word on how many people will lose their insurance, either. Essentially, Republicans intend to vote on this law while having no idea of what its real effects would be. Democrats were similarly blasted in 2009 for their rush to approve the ACA without being fully cognizant of its consequences. That Republicans would be in a hurry to repeat the same mistake–after having had years to prepare–is tragic comedy, to say the least.
Gambling with people’s healthcare is dangerous. Indeed, it is gambling with our very lives.
What can I do?
For the moment: watch this drama unfold. The good news is that this bill doesn’t go far enough for the hard-right Republicans, while it takes too much away from states represented by Republicans who have benefited from the ACA. In other words, it’s a bitter compromise unlikely to please anyone, and would probably cost votes in the long run. This bill may well be dead in the water, but be prepared to reach out to your Congressional delegation should the GOP take up this bill in earnest. It is unclear at this point whether Trump would sign on to this law, either, though one should assume that he would in order to get elements of his own agenda passed.
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