The battle to repeal or replace Obamacare was blocked and placed on the back burner last month. Many were disappointed, liberals were downright giddy, and President Trump promised we had not seen the end. Keeping his promises, as usual, Republicans have released their new health care plan this morning. With the Obama legacy continuing to wreak havoc, some say the new plan is just in time.
The plan will address concerns that were raised over the last attempt by Paul Ryan. It is also an obvious and welcome attempt to close the distance between the two sides; the House Freedom Caucus and moderates.
A source from the Freedom Caucus told reporters that the new bill would ensure 25 to 30 “yes” votes from their group. This means they are predicting 18 to 20 new “yes” votes that they were previously unable to secure.
GOP aides stated that there was no vote scheduled for this week or next. They are, however, expecting a discussion to occur over the weekend.
The new bill is named the MacArthur Amendment to the American Health Care Act. It does retain many of the provisions set forth in the previous version, many of which were seen to be acceptable and necessary including:
- Prohibition on denying coverage due to preexisting medical conditions
- Prohibition on discrimination based on gender
- Guaranteed issue of coverage to all applicants
- Guaranteed renewability of coverage
- Coverage of dependents on parents’ plan up to age 26
- Community Rating Rules, except for limited waivers
One of the larger points of contention in the last bill was the waiver options, specifically the community rating protections. The new offering from the Republicans addresses these concerns. According to a statement made last month by Freedom Caucus Chairman Representative Mark Meadows, those changes will be the basis of support by a majority of the caucus.
The new bill has a Limited Waiver Option. This will give states a chance to apply for exemptions from specific federal standards. It would allow individual states to lower premium costs and expand the number of people who are covered. The areas that are available for Limited Waivers include:
- Essential Health Benefits
- Community rating rules, except for the following categories, which are not waivable:
– Age (except for reductions of the 5:1 age ratio previously established)
– Health Status (unless the state has established a high-risk pool or is participating in a
federal high-risk pool)
In order to receive these waivers, states must meet certain requirements. The state’s intentions must be lowering premium costs, increasing the number of insured people, or advancing an additional benefit to the public interest. This can include guaranteeing coverage for citizens with pre-existing conditions. In the name of expediency, applications must be approved within 90 days of being completed.
Last week in an interview, President Trump maintained his hard stance that health care needed to be fixed one way or another. He stated that if it became necessary he might “end the payments to insurance companies to cover low-income subscribers to force Democrats to the negotiating table.”
That would allow insurance companies to raise their rates, making healthcare unaffordable for many people. The president insists that Obamacare is simply too flawed to continue. Most Americans seem to agree with that. The problem has been finding an acceptable alternative. President Trump told the interviewer, “If Congress doesn’t approve [the payments], or if I don’t approve it, that would mean that Obamacare doesn’t have enough money so it dies immediately as opposed to over a period of time. Even if it got that money, it dies, but it dies over a period of time.”
Obamacare was rushed through amidst far too much secrecy. It was hailed as Obama’s legacy and has become more of his downfall. The new administration is clearly determined to fix that. Time is of the essence but it is also necessary to devote enough time to getting it right this time around.
The new revisions seem to meet the requirements of both sides. It will be interesting to see if the Democrats work towards a compromise in the interest of America or if they will fall back on resisting the president out of spite.