I haven’t read the entire Republican healthcare bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA,) yet. At least not word for word. I’ve read less than the authors of the bill, but more than nine out of ten Republican Member of Congress. One bill I have read word for word is the Affordable Care Act (ACA.) Not just the first version, but also the amended versions all the way to the final. This wasn’t just for fun; I was working for Congress during the debate and passage of the ACA. Because of this, I feel qualified to share my thoughts.
The Republican AHCA website promises the bill provides “relief” from the ACA, or Obamacare as they call it. I want to address one claim the Republicans make; dismantling the ACA’s taxes, specifically from the individual mandate, will help with the increase in premiums.
The individual mandate had a specific and essential purpose: to get young, healthy people enrolled in health insurance program. The more healthy people paying premiums, the lower premiums cost for everyone in the same program. Under the ACA, if you didn’t have health insurance, you would be forced to pay a relatively small penalty.
The GOP AHCA website makes the claim to help young adults access to health care. However, the bill states if an individual goes without health coverage for two months they can be charged 30% more for a health insurance premium as a penalty. The penalty won’t make it easy for anyone who lost their coverage to regain it. It also won’t encourage many with no insurance, to get covered. The only beneficiary of this penalty would be the insurance companies.
Are you wondering why the Republicans are trying to fast track this bill? This is just one problematic aspect of the bill out of dozens. Republicans know their plan will cost more than the ACA, insure fewer people, and provide far lower quality. This is why it already has Senate Republican opposition.