Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Obamacare Repeal/Replacement Watch: First Bills Released

On March 6, 2017 House Republicans released their American Health Care Act (AHCA) proposal for repealing and replacing Obamacare. Both the House Ways and Means Committees and Energy and Commerce published amending language. Articles and proposals are linked below.  I spent this morning discussing the changes, benefits and negatives of this proposed legislation on the Armstrong and Getty Radio Program.

In the afternoon I was on the Michael Berry Radio Show for a more in depth analysis of the bill.

There are two significant changes from the “leaked” discussion draft seen in mid-February versus this newer version. The newer AHCA has no mention of taxing employer sponsored health care and keeps the Cadillac tax in play but delays it even further until 2025. As in the “leaked" bill, the individual mandate and the employer mandate would be repealed (or more accurately reduced to $0) for months beginning after December 31, 2015.  Many other provisions are phased out from 2018 to 2020.

We will need to monitor any amendments closely as the bill progresses in the House and then in the Senate.

Please keep in mind, these are proposals only and subject to change.  Congress is recessed April 7-21 so we hope to have a clearer picture of legislative maneuvers. This is a works in progress but we will let you know if final action takes place to impact your employer obligations.

The American Health Care Act: Fact Sheet (PDF)
March 6, 2017 – Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives
Excerpt: “"[T]he primary Committees with jurisdiction over health care -- Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce -- have released the American Health Care Act -- legislation that not only repeals the law, but replaces it with reforms President Trump laid out.... [H]ere's what the American Health Care Act will do: ... [1] Dismantle the Obamacare taxes ... [2] Eliminate the individual and employer mandate penalties ... [3] Prohibit health insurers from denying coverage ... [4] [Allow] dependents to continue staying on their parents' plan until they are 26.... [5] Establish a Patient and State Stability Fund ... [6] Modernize and strengthen Medicaid ... [7] [Expand] Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) -- nearly doubling the amount of money people can contribute and broadening how people can use it.... [8] [Provide] a monthly tax credit -- between $2,000 and $14,000 a year -- for low- and middle-income individuals and families who don't receive insurance through work or a government program."

The American Health Care Act: House Ways and Means Committee Provisions
March 6, 2017 – Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives
Excerpt: "The legislation, part of House Republicans' American Health Care Act, ... [1] Dismantles Obamacare taxes and mandates -- including the individual and employer mandate penalties and taxes on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, health insurance premiums, and medical devices. [2] Empowers individuals and families to spend their health care dollars the way they want and need by enhancing and expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). [3] Helps Americans access affordable, quality health care by providing a monthly tax credit to individuals and families who don't receive insurance through work or a government program."

The American Health Care Act: House Energy and Commerce Committee Provisions (PDF)
March 6, 2017 – Energy and Commerce Committee, U.S. House of Representatives
Excerpt: "The legislation, part of House Republicans' American Health Care Act, ... [1] Creates a Patient and State Stability Fund -- This new and innovative fund give states broad flexibility to design programs that best serve their unique populations. They can also use funds to increase access to preventative services. [2] Responsibly unwinds Obamacare's Medicaid expansion -- By freezing new enrollment after 2 years and grandfathering in current enrollees, we protect patients and offer a stable transition. [3] Strengthens Medicaid -- Using a per capita allotment, our legislation ensures a fair funding formula for states while creating a viable financial future for the program."
March 6, 2017 - New York Times 
Excerpt: "House Republicans released on Monday legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.  It fundamentally changes how health care is financed for people who do not have insurance through work, and it eliminates the mandate requiring most Americans to have health insurance, a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act."

Rand Paul: House GOP Healthcare Plan Will Not Pass
March 7, 2017 - Washington Examiner
Excerpt: "Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul promised the healthcare plan proposed by House GOP leadership would not pass the Senate and become law because it's just 'Obamacare lite.'
Paul told Fox News he has serious problems with the plan, especially the replacement for the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. Paul said there will still be a mandate, of sorts, in the bill but instead of paying the government a penalty for backing out of a health insurance plan that payment would go to private insurance companies."

The American Health Care Act: The Republican’s Bill to Replace Obamacare, Explained

March 6, 2017 – Vox
Excerpt: “House Republicans released their long-awaited replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act on Monday. The American Health Care Act was developed in in conjunction with the White House and Senate Republicans. Two big questions-how many people it will cover and how much it will cost-are still unresolved: It will likely cover fewer people than the Affordable Care Act currently does, but we don’t know how many. And the Congressional Budget Office has not yet scored the legislation, so its price tag is unknown.”

The Republicans Take on Health Care—and It Won’t Be Easy
March 7, 2017 – CNN
Excerpt: “Republican lawmakers have finally unveiled a plan to repeal major portions of Obamacare, capping years of attacks against the health care law and a months-long debate that exposed deep rifts within the GOP.”

Trump Praises New Health Care Bill as GOP Tries to Sell It
March 7, 2017 – Associated Press
Excerpt: “The new bill aims to replace that law - one of former President Barack Obama's signature achievements - with a system designed along conservative lines. Primarily affected would be some 20 million people who purchase their own private health plans directly from an insurer and the more than 70 million covered by Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income people.”