DENVER – Top Republicans in Washington began their push to promote the new health care bill drafted by the House GOP Tuesday as critics from both sides of the aisle surfaced, and as many wondered exactly what the draft bill would mean for them.
House Republicans and President Trump unveiled the American Health Care Act late Monday. Trump and other Republicans had campaigned on the premise they would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, but the new bill has drawn plenty of criticism already.
Even by Tuesday night, some House Republicans said after a meeting that they were concerned the new bill, as is, wouldn’t have the votes to pass.
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said Monday ahead of the new bill’s unveiling that the initial Feb. 10 draft of the bill was unsatisfactory in his opinion because it did not do enough to cover Medicaid recipients.
And Tuesday, Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee said they opposed the House GOP draft and called for a different bill. Paul called the new bill unveiled Monday “Obamacare lite.”
There are numerous issues with the bill that liberals and conservatives alike have found. Below is an outline of some of the differences between the new AHCA and Obamacare.
Will you pay more or less for insurance?
Many things will factor into the answer to this question, but the primary factor will be one’s age.
While the ACA provided tax credits and subsidies for people based mostly off their income, the new bill focuses more heavily on aiding people in getting insurance by using tax credits to offset costs.
But the tax credits appear to help wealthier people more than low-income individuals.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has put together an interactive map that estimates the differences in tax credit estimates a person would receive under Obamacare versus the new health care plan.
It shows that when incomes decrease, the Obamacare tax credits would be more beneficial. But for people with higher incomes, the new plan would be more beneficial.
The map also shows that counties not in the Denver-Colorado Springs metro areas would be more negatively-affected by the new plan.
But the Congressional Budget Office has yet to release its estimates of what the new plan would cost people or how many people would possibly lose coverage.
The Joint Committee on Taxation released an estimate Tuesday that said repealing or delaying some of the taxes currently engrained under Obamacare, as the new plan seeks to do, would cause the government to lose around $500 billion in revenue.
Who will benefit, who will hurt?
Analysis from The Associated Press says that young, healthy people will likely benefit more from the new plan than older people who have ailments more often because of the elimination of subsidies for out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles.
It also says that lower-income people would get less in tax credits in most cases than they would under Obamacare.
Will you get more options?
The bill aims to create more options and a larger variety of insurance plans to choose from, though exactly what insurance companies decide to do with the plans they offer remains unknown.
There is the possibility that there could be a wider range of plans, but those plans will be written by the insurance companies and could have high deductibles or a narrow network range. States are likely to have a big say in exactly which plans they choose to offer, according to the AP.
What happens if you don’t sign up?
While people who did not sign up for insurance either through their employer, a private plan or the ACA were subject to fines, the new bill also contains a “mandate” of sorts.
Under the draft plan, if a person lets their coverage lapse for more than 63 days, they would have to pay 30 percent more for their plan once they re-signed.
Another difference: the 30 percent would be paid to the insurance companies, not the federal government, as is the case under the ACA.
Is there a tax cut for the wealthy?
Many have already criticized the bill as essentially being a tax cut for the wealthy. The new bill does in fact eliminate several taxes on people earning more than $200,000 a year that the CBO estimates would generate $346 billion over the next 10 years if Obamacare is left as is.
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center noted at least 10 taxes written into Obamacare that would be repealed or delayed under the new plan, including the “Cadillac” tax that is set to kick in in 2020 but would be delayed until 2025 under the new plan.
Medical and pharmaceutical companies would also benefit from some of those tax repeals, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, which cost those companies millions each year.
The Washington Post reports that the top 0.1 percent of earners would save nearly $200,000 a year if taxes on salaries and investments are repealed as the new bill stipulates.
How will Medicaid be affected?
The new plan would cap Medicaid funding to each state at an amount determined by the number of people living below the poverty line and current medical costs.
Obamacare allowed states to opt in to Medicaid expansion, but the expansion would be gone after 2020 under the new bill and people covered continually under the expansion would no longer be covered.
Approximately 400,000 Coloradans are covered under the state’s Medicaid program.
How are Colorado leaders, health organizations reacting?
The Colorado Health Institute issued its thoughts on the AHCA Tuesday evening. It says it is pleased that the new bill keeps Medicaid expansion in until 2020, but concerned by provisions that it says would make it harder for people to qualify for and stay on Medicaid.
It also said one of the new provisions could help Colorado in its eyes – one that would put $15 billion into a state innovation fund that would allow the state to apply for grants for higher-risk pools or for subsidies to cover patients with higher incurred costs.
AARP came out against the bill Tuesday evening, saying it would cost “millions” of people their insurance and would likely increase premiums and other costs for most people. That line was echoed by many across the political spectrum Tuesday.
After Gardner and three other Republican senators sent their letter to Mitch McConnell Monday saying they didn’t support the Feb. 10 draft because of the lack of Medicaid protections, he offered another statement Tuesday saying he was “reviewing” the new plan from the House GOP.
“Obamacare’s ‘Washington-knows-best’ approach forced people into a broken system, and I want to make sure its replacement will work for Coloradans,” he said, in part, in a statement to Denver7. “I am currently reviewing the House GOP plan, and I look forward to working with my colleagues toward solutions that benefits Coloradans and Americans around the country.”
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., called the new bill a “poorly drawn plan” and criticized the haste in which it was drawn up.
“I have long said I am willing to work with anyone committed to improving our health care system. There were problems with health care before the ACA passed and there are problems with the system now. Coloradans, especially those in rural communities, deserve reforms that will reduce their health care costs. But the Republican health care plan does nothing to fix or improve affordability, coverage, or quality of care. Instead, this plan—created in secret—would make things dramatically worse, as the immediate bipartisan outcry suggests.”
But the most clarity on the new bill will come after the CBO releases its analysis on the bill, which is expected to include estimations on costs and the number of people who might lose coverage, among other scrutinizing.
The budget office has said it is currently putting together the analysis and hopes to have it released soon.