By now, you probably know that House Republicans finally released their big “Replace Obamacare!” legislative package, which would essentially take the current system and modify it in weird ways. It’s called the “American Health Care Act,” and it’s as bad as a cynical mind might have imagined. They want to keep the pre-existing condition clause, and continue to allow dependents to remain on their parents’ health care plans until age 26, but the rest is a weird jumble that has drawn sharp criticism from Democrats (of course), and that even conservatives seem to hate. There’s no telling whether it will have the momentum to go through both houses and become law, but in the meantime, let’s scrutinize the worst aspects of the new plan. Here are the ten ugliest changes in the works:
1. Planned Parenthood is officially under attack. Via WaPo:
It would also target Planned Parenthood, rendering the women’s health organization ineligible for Medicaid reimbursements or federal family planning grants — a key priority for antiabortion groups.
2. Changes to Medicaid would, by 2020, freeze the Obamacare expansion that gave insurance to more than 11 million people, and subsequently slash federal funding. With these people unprotected, even Republican Senators are alarmed.
“We are concerned that any poorly implemented or poorly timed change in the current funding structure in Medicaid could result in a reduction in access to life-saving health care services,” Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska wrote in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
3. Insurance companies would be able to charge the elderly five times more than young people for premiums. (The current limit under Obamacare is three times.)
Older consumers would pay more for coverage under the GOP plan. The oldest consumers on the individual market are 64, just shy of the Medicare eligibility age of 65, and under the Affordable Care Act they can be charged no more than 3 times what a 21-year-old would pay. The GOP plan would broaden the age bands, as these rate limits are called, to 5 to 1, allowing insurers to charge the oldest consumers five times more than younger ones. What’s more, the proposal would give the states the latitude to broaden those limits even further or to constrict them back to 3 to 1 or another level.
4. Insurance companies can tack on 30 percent premium surcharges for anyone with a lapse in coverage.
This replaces the mandate that requires each individual to either have insurance or pay a fine, but will actually increase costs over time—and not much time, at that—for those who go without insurance for 63 consecutive days or more. Mother Jones points out the flaws:
Insurers are required to cover everyone who applies, even if they have pre-existing conditions. However, if you have a coverage gap longer than two months, insurers can impose a premium surcharge of 30 percent for one year. This “continuous coverage” provision is designed to motivate people to buy insurance, since the bill repeals the individual mandate. However, this is very weak motivation and won’t persuade very many young, healthy people to get covered.
5. “Tax credits” to help people buy insurance would not be nearly enough to cover current costs. (Which is why clowns like Jason Chaffetz are saying poor people should choose healthcare over iPhones.) From Reuters:
Craig Garthwaite of Northwestern University said the proposed tax credits, which would range from $2,000 to $4,000, were “frankly not enough for a low-income person to afford insurance.”
And from Money:
Here’s the age breakdown for enrollees below those income levels:
30 and Under: $2,000 per year
30 to 40: $2,500 per year
40 to 50: $3,000 per year
50 to 60: $3,500 per year
60 and Over: $4,000 per year
And we’re not even getting into the laughably small funds for high-risk pools within states, or the repeal of Obamacare taxes on the rich. The plan is still subject to review by the Congressional Budget Office, and that’s only the first of many potential obstacles, but it’s pretty amazing that after seven years of endless complaints about Obamacare, this is the best the Republicans could do.