Repealing and replacing Obamacare has been one of President Donald Trump’s and several other Republican lawmakers’ biggest promises, something that was campaigned on for years. Earlier this year, there was an attempt to create an alternative system, however it did not receive enough votes in Congress to pass. As the Trump Administration’s agenda was spending too much time on the issue, the president decided to move forth with his agenda and return to health care later.
And now the replacement of Obamacare, known as the American Health Care Act, is being debated, supported, and criticized in Congress, and basically everywhere.
On the 4th of May, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 217 to 213 (almost all Republicans voted for the bill, while all Democrats voted against it) in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act and passing the American Health Care Act. Interestingly, it seems as though Establishment Republicans and moderates seemed to be the least supportive, while those further from the establishment showed greater support.
However, although the AHCA made it out of the House, the Senate has released a statement saying they will design a different version of the House Bill to vote on.
Overview of the AHCA
The American Health Care Act allows for the continuation of Medicaid expansion until 2021. Tax credits will be provided for those with an annual income less than 75 thousand USD. Additionally, AHCA promises coverage of pre-existing health conditions, as it would obligate insurance companies to do such. Under the bill, those who are switching insurers can obtain the same rate if it is within 63 days. If one does not execute the change within that period of time, that individual will pay an extra 30% for the following year, but thereafter, will pay a standard rate.
Read more about it HERE
But although the bill has passed through the House, there has been criticism of it from the left, the right, and centrists, pointing out the flaws of the bill.
For one, the bill does not quite align with the Trump Agenda. His goal was to provide coverage for everyone, not cut Medicaid any further, and provide lower rates. However, the bill entails the eventual halting of Medicaid expansion. Moreover, experts suggest that coverage would decrease, as lower income people would be less likely to pay premiums with the phasing out of Medicaid. In these instances, the AHCA is not meeting the standard of the campaign promises, at least in the short term (supporters’ arguments will be covered below).
Health care experts proclaim that the tax credits are insufficient for affording insurance.
Another criticism seems to be about the bill’s inclusiveness. Without the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies could charge older people over 3x the amount they exact from younger people. Furthermore, though not explicit in the act, the AHCA could allow insurance companies to charge more for customers with pre-existing conditions, which the ACA had prohibited.
There are several points that the right emphasize about the AHCA, although to be fair, many are concentrated on the repeal of Obamacare policies.
The AHCA will get rid of several of the Obama-era policies that Republicans deem as harmful. For one, the individual mandate, which compels people to be insured, will be rescinded, what some say to be too great of an exertion of government on individuals. Secondly, Obamacare taxes, which have been argued to decrease full-time employment and jobs, will be no more.
The proposed tax credits are said to help citizens of low-income afford their health care.
By giving states more leverage over health care, Republicans argue that they are giving states the ability to renew or improve their health care systems.
On of the biggest arguments for the right is that lower premiums and better coverage will come over time. With more competition between insurance companies, Trump says more affordable rates will result, which will allow more people to afford health care. Additionally, Republicans point to private health care being often of better quality, and with the emphasis on it, this could allow better coverage if the rates become affordable.
However, much of these arguments do seem more centered around the advantages of repealing Obamacare, rather than those of the suggested replacement. Republicans acknowledge that modifications must (and accordingly will) be made to the American Health Care Act, but the supporters of it say it is a step in the right direction.
Will it Pass?
We do not know yet. The Senate, as stated above, will be voting on a new version of the American Health Care Act. Expect more updates.