The U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (217-213) on strictly partisan lines, with 20 Republicans voting against the bill. The bill will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, better known as “ObamaCare”.
Some of the key provisions that would be changed include:
- Eliminating the individual mandate to purchase health care, but allowing insurers to enforce higher rates on individuals who go for more than 63 days without coverage
- Eliminating the employer mandate for large employers to provide health care for employees
- Eliminating income-base tax credits and replacing with age-base tax credits
- Rolling back Medicaid expansion by reducing federal funds to states and changing the program from an entitlement program to a grant program
- Allowing individual states to opt out of the regulations and consumer protections guaranteed under the Affordable care act, including pre-existing conditions and other essential benefits. States can craft “skinnier” and cheaper plans for those that don’t need all those services covered under essential benefits.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where significant changes are anticipated. Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) and Majority Whip Cornyn (R-TX) signaled that passing the Senate will take much longer that the House and that the process will be very methodical. The Senate is expected to draft a bill for health care reform that can be passed through reconciliation, a process that requires a simple majority and avoids the 60-vote filibuster threshold. NALP will keep members informed as health care reform progress occurs in the Senate.