House lawmakers just passed a new healthcare bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as Obamacare. The vote was close but the ayes took it by a 217 to 213 vote margin (216 votes were needed). The bill now goes to the Senate.
So, what are the key changes in this new legislation? USA today listed several including:
- Individual Mandate
The fundamental principle of Obamacare was a mandate for individuals to have health insurance, either through their employer or through a private provider. Anyone not having insurance would have to pay a tax. The Republican bill repeals that mandate.
- Age-Based Premiums
Obamacare allowed insurers to vary premiums for the same level of coverage only by tobacco use, location and age — within limits. The premiums for a 64-year-old can’t be more than three times the premium for a 21-year-old buying the same plan. The American Health Care Act would let insurers charge older customers five times as much.
- Pre-Existing Conditions
One of the most popular provisions of Obamacare was a requirement that insurance companies provide coverage without regard to a customer’s pre-existing health condition, and without charging them excessive premiums. The Republican bill now allows states to waive the limit on costs for people with pre-existing conditions.
- Minimum Insurance Standards
The Affordable Care Act established a list of “essential health benefits” that all insurance plans were required to provide — including mental health services, maternity care and emergency room visits. The Republican bill allows states to waive those requirements.
The New York Times added that, “The bill would end Medicaid as an open-ended entitlement to health care and would put the program on a budget. States would receive an allotment of federal money for each beneficiary, or, as an alternative, they could take the money in a lump sum as a block grant, with fewer federal requirements. Medicaid cuts would total $880 billion over 10 years.”
The bill now heads to the Senate where it is expected to face scrutiny, according to the Washington Post.
The House bill is expected to undergo major changes in the Senate, where it will be subject to unlimited amendments and could be introduced in a different form than it has taken in the lower chamber.
MarketWatch.com interviewed Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee who said he believes the legislation has a 0% chance in the Senate.
A number of a major healthcare organizations have come out against the new health care bill including the American Hospital Association (AHA), American Medical Association (AMA), America’s Essential Hospitals, the Children’s Hospital Association, and AARP.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about the legislation, what it means to the people of Arizona and what the future of this bill might be as it moves to the U.S. Senate. Keeping the lines of communication open and driving dialogue about the important health issues to the people of our state is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!