For months, Congressional Republican leaders have been dodging questions about how they would replace the Affordable Care Act with a better law. They even went so far as to hide the draft of their plan from other lawmakers.
No wonder they hid the healthcare bill. What they released on Monday would kick millions of people off the coverage they currently have. So much for their big campaign promise: “We’re going to have insurance for everybody” — with coverage that would be “much less expensive and much better.”
Over 20 million Americans gained health care coverage under the A.C.A. (Obamacare). But most would lose that coverage under the GOP newly unveiled proposal, health experts say.
Let’s consider Medicaid. Under Obamacare, the program was expanded to cover 11 million more poor Americans in 31 states and the District of Columbia. The Republican bill would end the expansion. The working poor tend to drop in and out of Medicaid because their incomes fluctuate, and the Republican plan would bar people who left the expanded program from going back in.
As noted by a New York Times’ editorial piece, the Republican bill would also, for the first time ever, apply a per-person limit on how much the federal government spends on Medicaid. This change could shift about $370 billion in health care costs over 10 years to state governments, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Many state governments, faced with limited budgets, would be forced to cut benefits or cover fewer people.
“For people who buy insurance on federal or state-run health exchanges, the G.O.P. plan would greatly reduce the A.C.A.’s subsidies, which come in the form of tax credits. For example, a 40-year-old living in Raleigh, N.C., who earns $30,000 a year would receive $3,000 from the government to buy insurance, 32 percent less than under current law, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Additionally, “insurers would be allowed to charge older people five times as much as younger people,” The Times found.
The plan would do away with the current mandate that requires nearly everybody to obtain insurance or pay a penalty —instead, insurers would be allowed to charge people who don’t maintain their insurance continuously 30 percent more for coverage.
That problem would only worsen under their proposal because insurers would almost certainly raise their prices as the pool of the insured shrank.
While working people lose health care, the rich would come out winners. The bill would eliminate the taxes on businesses and individuals —people making more than $200,000 a year— who fund Obamacare. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax cuts would total about $600 billion over 10 years.
House Republicans seem to think that people who can’t afford insurance are simply irresponsible. Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, for instance, told reporters that people should invest in their health care, “rather than getting that new iPhone.”
Word to Mr. Chaffetz: Health insurance costs more than $18,000 a year for an average family; an iPhone costs a few hundred dollars.
Today, House committees will start considering the bill. Brace for impact, America.