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Healthcare Reform News Update for May 4, 2017

Healthcare Reform News Update for May 4, 2017

House Passes the American Health Care Act (H.R 1628)

This afternoon at 2:19 p.m. EST, the House passed the amended American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA). The bill passed by a slim margin (217 to 213). As with any bill, the AHCA will be sent to the Senate. The Senate might amend different parts of the bill or write its own bill. If the Senate passes a different version of the bill, then the House and Senate will hold a conference committee to resolve the differences between the two bills. Once a new bill has been created, it must then pass unchanged through both the House and Senate, and be signed by the President, in order to become a law.

Under the AHCA, the following will be repealed:

  • The individual mandate
  • The employer mandate
  • Cost-sharing reduction subsidies
  • Certain ACA taxes

The following will be changed:

  • Medicaid expansion
  • Pre-existing condition policies
  • Essential health benefit policies
  • Restrictions on increased costs for older Americans (age band rating)
  • Premium subsidies
  • Health savings accounts

The following will not change:

  • Dependent coverage until the age of 26
  • Prohibitions on annual and lifetime limits

GOP Healthcare Plan Still Includes Congressional Exemption

Language in the GOP healthcare plan still exempts Congress and their aids from being subject to state waiver provisions. This protects Congress and their staff from “losing the [ACA’s] popular provisions.” According to Rep. Tom MacArthur’s office, separate legislation will eliminate this controversial exemption.

Aetna to Exit Virginia ACA Marketplace

Aetna will no longer offer individual health insurance plans, on- and off-exchange, in Virginia. The company cited $200 million in anticipated losses and market uncertainty as its reason to exit Virginia’s individual market. Including Iowa, this marks the second state where Aetna has withdrawn individual plans.

News Update for May 3, 2017

Can Moderate Republicans Draft a Winning Proposal?

After moderate Republican Reps. Fred Upton (MI) and Billy Long (MO) announced their opposition to the current healthcare reform bill, they drafted a proposal addressing their concerns. Upton’s and Long’s proposal “would provide $8 billion over five years to help some people with pre-existing medical conditions afford coverage.” Upton and Long “said Wednesday they were now backing the high-profile [healthcare reform bill] after winning President Donald Trump’s support for their proposal.”

News Update for May 2, 2017

Will Republicans Have Enough Support for a Healthcare Reform Vote?

Concern over pre-existing conditions isn’t helping the GOP pass healthcare reform legislation. In addition to moderates withholding their support, a Republican legislator—and Trump supporter—has decided to vote against the amended American Health Care Act (AHCA). Rep. Billy Long (MO-R), in explaining his decision to vote no, said this: “I have always stated that one of the few good things about Obamacare is that people with pre-existing conditions would be covered. The MacArthur amendment strips away any guarantee that pre-existing conditions would be covered and affordable.”

The New York Times has created a report of the number of “no” votes, collecting and updating numbers from 4 additional news organizations. To see how many “no” votes there currently are, and who is voting “no,” read their article here.

Trump Talks Pre-existing Conditions With Bloomberg News

During an interview with Bloomberg News, President Trump said, “I want it to be good for sick people. It’s not in its final form right now. It will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare.”

By “final form,” it is not clear if the President is saying that the current, amended healthcare bill is still being negotiated or if he is commenting on future Senate revisions after the bill is passed in the House.

10 Patient Advocacy Groups Speak Out Against Revised AHCA

Patient advocacy groups, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the American Heart Association, have spoken out in opposition to the most recent Republican healthcare reform proposal. In the group’s statement, they wrote: “As introduced, the bill would profoundly reduce coverage for millions of Americans—including many low-income and disabled individuals who rely on Medicaid—and increase out-of-pocket costs for the sickest and oldest among us. We are alarmed by recent harmful changes to the AHCA, including provisions that will weaken key consumer protections.”

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