A Breakdown of The American Health Care Act
Paul Ryan, the 54th Speaker of the House of Representatives, introduced a bill called The American Health Care Act (AHCA) in early March. Then last Friday he pulled the bill without a vote. He gave no specifics and he left us with questions and concerns.
Supporters of the new healthcare bill hoped to satisfy the Obamacare recipients as well as the eager Republicans, who have been awaiting the opportunity to introduce a new healthcare reform since the start of Obamacare. With a Republican controlled presidency, House, and Senate, there couldn’t be a better time.
House Republicans showed little mercy toward their democratic colleagues when they talked about their ideas for a new healthcare plan, but the bill didn’t completely hold up their word. Ryan tried to make it work with both the left and right agendas. With a tricky subject like healthcare, and with midterm elections around the corner in 2018, Ryan was walking on egg shells.
Regardless of the healthcare plan, there will always be people left without coverage for a variety of reasons. Barack Obama said you won’t have to change your doctor many times, yet there were still people who had to do so. With big House projects like this one, people are always left behind.
As of now the bill was left behind, but according to some, Obamacare needs structural changes to continue to work. Critics say there are too few enrollees, too many of whom are in poor health, and too many big premium increases. Some increases are expected to average 23 percent in 2017, with some 58 percent or higher.
Obamacare wasn’t as big of a success as the Democrats would have hoped, but it did its job. Obamacare was able to get the foot in the door for a nationalized healthcare plan that could benefit the majority of people, including the people that have been pushed out by the insurance companies’ rising prices. The Economist states that the number of people insured has almost doubled since the introduction of Obamacare, but it is coming to the surface that the plan wasn’t as financially stable as the Democrats had hoped.
The Republicans wanted to get their own foot in the door with a healthcare plan but couldn’t seem to muster up the support to do so. Before I dive into the specifics, let’s give a general overview of what the Republican’s healthcare plan would have looked like. It would have broadened the options for people’s choices on healthcare and tried to benefit everyone who was covered under Obamacare, but with the bill removal on Friday, none of these changes will occur (for better or for worse).
AHCA was looking to cut premiums and other massive deductibles that have built up from the limited insurance choices under Obamacare. Less choices means less competition, and that means higher prices. Opening the insurance industry up to 50 states adds a larger market for consumers to choose from. The premiums are paid for by the people via taxes on businesses and citizens. Unfortunately, the original AHCA supposedly would not have cut regulations and dropped premiums, causing some republicans to call it Obamacare-lite.
Along with giving people more options, the AHCA was going to change Medicaid. Medicare and Medicaid services are available for people ages 65 years and older, but it also depends on a lot of other circumstances. Under its current condition it isn’t stable because Medicaid has grown to a point that it is no longer financially sustainable, unless there is another source of revenue that could subsidize it.
USA Today’s Jay Hancock says the cost of Medicare is put on tax payers and that only pays for half of it – the rest is government subsidies and money allocated from different revenue sources. Robert Pear of the New York Times wrote that the new bill would have “rolled back” Obamacare’s Medicare and instead just give a lump sum to the states for beneficiaries.
Essentially, they would have given the tax credits to everyone regardless of their income. The new act also wouldn’t have forced people to buy insurance – it would have been completely optional. The hope was to have more people covered than with Obamacare by lowering the cost and giving tax credits to everyone, ideally benefitting the people in the system paying taxes.
The Republicans need to come up with a replacement for healthcare, or their party will be in trouble. They’ll be unable to identify themselves, as they have been the party of “repeal and replace” for almost seven years now. Regardless of what comes forward next with healthcare, it’ll hopefully be a non-partisan discussion. Let’s put our party bases aside and think what can we do to make a bill that’s going to benefit everyone. Less politics and more pragmaticism will benefit the majority of Americans.