If you think healthcare is expensive, you’re not wrong: according to Debt.org, it’s often the number-one cause of bankruptcy in the United States.
Republicans in Congress have given the long-awaited details of what they are calling the “American Healthcare Act,” or AHCA. The bill is essentially meant to reach the Republicans’ long-held goal of “repealing and replacing” what it has called ObamaCare.
Critics across the political spectrum have not held back comments on their concerns or their outright dislike of the AHCA. The American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the American Nurses Association, and even the AARP have stated their against this bill.
But what exactly would happen if the bill gets passed?
Repeal and Replace
To repeal ObamaCare, the AHCA needs 60 votes in the U.S. Senate in order to be turned into law. Right now, there are a total of 52 Republican and 48 Democratic senators, stacking the odds against the Republican Party. But according to NBC News, “Republicans are using a budget process called reconciliation to pass the AHCA.” This means that the bill would only need 51 votes to pass, so as long as the bill has a “budgetary impact” its passage could be expedited (assuming, of course, that the U.S. House also approves).
Are your healthcare needs covered?
AHCA would eliminate some of the additional assistance that the Affordable Care Act offered. Former President Barack Obama had 10 “essential benefits” that were part of his Affordable Care Act, benefits that were required by most insurance plans. Included in these benefits: maternity and newborn care, mental health services, addiction treatment, prescription drugs, rehabilitative services, preventive services, and pediatric services, according to NBC News. If the ACHA passes, it would cut some of the ties with Medicare/Medicaid, taking away some of these benefits.
NBC goes on to say that mental health and addiction would be the most impacted by a defunding. Also up in the air in terms of healthcare defunding is Planned Parenthood. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that this could result in thousands of births of babies without maternity healthcare.
Cost and effect
Healthcare insurance relies on a generous amount of “healthy individuals” (those who don’t rely on healthcare as much because they’re healthy) to balance out the people who had a stronger need for healthcare (because of their need for insurance). Under the Affordable Care Act, people do not need to pay a “fine” unless they are uninsured. When more Americans leave their insurance programs because they don’t need them anymore, the rates of insurance are expected to increase. The Republican plan would make rejoining an insurance plan much more expensive, allowing insurance companies to charge a 30 percent premium.
Some Americans on the Affordable Care Act who voted for Donald Trump are angry with the potential of their insurance being replaced with a version that loses its value. TIME magazine reported one example where a woman would receive more than a 50 percent deduction from her annual pay. Instead of receiving $10,000 to help tackle medical bills, she would only receive the proposed $2,000-$4,000 tax credit.
The angst of some Republican voters about the future of their healthcare has some Republican senators questioning whether to vote for the AHCA. Defunding their healthcare could lead to distrust from the people who voted the representatives into office. The biggest changes of the AHCA concern funding; should this be passed, the funding Obama and Congress formerly funneled towards Medicare/Medicaid would receive major cutbacks.
A key part of this bill is tax credits: a deduction of a few thousand dollars based off of income and insurance payments. In a way, the AHCA is arguably similar to Reaganomics, a term used to describe former President Ronald Reagan’s theory that cutting corporate taxes would stimulate the economy, along with very little interference from the government, and everyone would benefit accordingly.
Critics, however, believe the proposed AHCA will lead to more tax breaks for the wealthy. It is estimated by the New York Times that the proposed Republican repeals would lead to over $100 billion collectively in tax cuts over the next 10 years for those making over $1 million annually.
Age is another key factor when discussing this bill. While a 21-year-old on the plan pays about $1,700 in premiums under ObamaCare, a 64-year-old would have to pay $14,000 with the AHCA. These extreme prices for senior healthcare are thought to be a consequence of a citizen’s health needs during their later years.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 14 million Americans could lose their healthcare in 2018, while another 10 million Americans could lose their healthcare insurance by the year 2026. The money that would be cut from Medicare/Medicaid is estimated to be $800 billion.
Healthcare is about to enter a new era, should the American Healthcare Act be passed. The amount of money people will receive for healthcare is dramatically decreasing, while premiums could sharply rise for the elderly. In addition to the price changes, Medicare is also expecting huge cuts, not just in terms of an estimated $800 billion budget cut, but 14 million people could lose their coverage by the year 2026.
For more information, visit the bill’s website at http://www.speaker.gov/HealthCare.
Story by Morgan Connelly