The worst place to get information right now about the GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill is Twitter. It’s a haven for lousy information, and people are merely repeating what they see in other tweets without having read the GOP bill. Several news organizations went through the bill and provided some useful information on what is contained within the GOP plan.
Axios has a bullet list of what is in and what is out based on the bill. Here are some of the provisions that are in, that I find to be positive:
- Continuous coverage — 30 percent penalty if people don’t keep themselves insured
- Enrollment in expanded Medicaid will be frozen
- Medicaid will change to “per capita caps” (funding limits for each person) in the fiscal year 2020
- A new, refundable tax credit will be available in 2020 to help people buy health insurance
- It’s not means tested, but phased out for upper-income people (starting at $75,000 for individuals, $150,000 for families)
Here are some provisions that are out:
- All Obamacare taxes
- All Obamacare subsidies, including its premium tax credit
- Individual, employer mandate penalties
- “Cadillac tax” (until 2025)
There are problems with the bill as well. One area that doesn’t appear to be addressed adequately is the pre-existing condition provision. Understandably, it is the most politically dangerous area of the health care debate. While the GOP bill will eliminate the individual and employer mandate for health insurance, the GOP plan does impose a 30% penalty for those who do not maintain continuous coverage.
Since insurers cannot deny coverage to somebody for a pre-existing condition, a family could buy a plan when Johnny needs to get his tonsils taken out. With no mandate, they could only cancel the policy and then sign up again when Johnny’s appendix needs to be removed. The 30% penalty is being proposed to dissuade people from jumping in and out of the pool. I assume the GOP had some numbers crunchers who determined the 30% figure was adequate to keep premiums from rising.
There is one major problem with the GOP approach, and that is the lack of a full repeal of The Affordable Care Act. Apparently, what the GOP intends to do is amend the ACA to repeal portions of the law and replace it with the provisions they are proposing. There are some who will say this is perfectly reasonable except for the fact that the regulatory burden of the ACA will remain mostly intact.
By only repealing portions of the ACA and replacing it with something else, there remains a vast federal bureaucracy that will not affect the biggest obstacle to people getting quality health care: cost.
Forget about “coverage.” If somebody loses their plan that costs them $1000 a month in premiums with a $8000 deductible, they’re likely to be better off. That’s akin to a catastrophic plan that Obamacare ironically eliminated when it was signed into law. Granted, under the GOP plan, people would no longer be required to purchase such plans, but for those who want to, there is nothing I see (so far) that says such plans would cost people less per month in premiums.
What the GOP put forth is a start. But by no means is this acceptable.