The effort to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) gained new momentum this week when House conservatives agreed to support an amendment that would significantly weaken the 2010 law’s insurance protections. The action has led to a new push for a House floor vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) – potentially as early as next week.
WSHA’s top priority in this debate is preserving coverage through the Medicaid expansion and the insurance subsidies to vulnerable people in our communities. WSHA opposed the AHCA and opposes the amended version of the bill released this week. The amendment makes an already bad bill worse, and would lead to dramatically higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions and deprive consumers of important insurance benefits.
Next steps and advocacy
The situation in Washington is very fluid. It is important that hospitals share their concerns about this bill with members of the Washington congressional delegation. WSHA is directly asking hospital leaders in key districts to contact their member of Congress to urge a no vote on the amended version of the AHCA.
More information on the AHCA and new amendment
Specifically, the amendment would allow states to seek federal waivers from the ACA’s essential benefit requirements. These are the 10 benefits every insurance plan must provide, including hospitalization, mental health, maternity services and prescription drugs. Insurers would still be required to offer plans to people with pre-existing conditions but would be allowed to charge higher prices for these plans. In addition, premiums for older people would be allowed to increase.
The major pieces of the initial AHCA remain in the bill:
- Phasing out of Medicaid expansion
- Capping federal Medicaid payments per-enrollee
- Removing the individual and employer mandates
- Retaining 90 percent of the cuts to hospitals contained in the ACA (Medicaid DSH cuts would be restored)
- Tying insurance subsidies to age rather than income