REPUBLICANS, including then candidate Donald Trump, ran on the campaign promise of repealing President Barack Obama’s signature legislative legacy — the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Republican party, a.k.a. the Grand Old Party (GOP), had been fixated on demonizing the ACA, also known as “Obamacare,” since Obama started pushing for its passing to provide health care to the most number of uninsured Americans.
When Trump won, he started repealing most of Obama’s legacy through executive orders, yet Obamacare remained untouched by Republicans, save for their barrage of criticisms of how much of a disaster it had been in the past eight years. Why? Republicans had no concrete bill to replace Obamacare with after eight long years.
Members of Congress had the biggest surprise of their lives when the polls showed Obamacare had been at an all-time high in approval ratings among Americans, despite the fact that many of its provisions need modifications to address the rising cost of premiums in several states. Many congressmen faced angry constituents who had benefitted from Obamacare, who hammered them with the questions — “Where is your plan?” and “How do you guarantee we will continue to be covered if you repeal Obamacare?”
Finally, on Monday, March 6, the Republican Party introduced their health care bill — led by House Speaker Paul Ryan — which was embraced and endorsed by Pres. Trump. They call it “American Health Care Act.”
The measure would throw away the requirement for individuals and employers to get insurance coverage or face penalties as was mandated by Obamacare.
What the GOP bill proposes is to give individuals refundable tax credits to purchase health insurance. It also aims to maintain coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and allow children to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26.
Trumpcare (or is it Ryancare?) would keep Obamacare’s protections of those with pre-existing conditions but allows insurers to charge higher premiums to those who let their coverage lapse.
The Republican health care bill would restructure the country’s Medicaid program so that states receive a set amount of money from the federal government every year.
This bill was rejected not only by Democrats, by the more conservative members of Congress as well. They call it “Obamacare lite”, saying it would be “dead on arrival” in the Senate.
The most damning report and case against Trumpcare, however, came from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) along with the Joint Committee on Taxation.
While the bill would reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion over 10 years, millions of Americans will be left without health care coverage.
As the New York Times reported:
“The budget office estimated that 52 million people would be uninsured in 2026 under the House Republican bill, compared with 28 million projected under current law.
“The report foresees huge changes in Medicaid. By 2026, it said, federal Medicaid spending would be 25 percent lower under the House bill than is projected under current law, and the number of Medicaid beneficiaries would be 17 percent lower, with 14 million fewer people covered by Medicaid.”
CNN reported that “health insurance premiums are expected to jump up to 20 percent in the individual market in 2018 and 2019, but after that, they would decrease. By 2026, average premiums would be roughly 10 percent lower than under the current system.”
“The increase in premiums would be much steeper for some Americans in the individual market,” the CNN report added, “particularly older people with lower incomes.
By the numbers, CNN stated that:
“A 64-year-old making $26,500 would pay $1,700 for coverage in 2026 under Obamacare, thanks to its subsidies. But under the Ryan plan, that person would get hit with an annual premium bill of $14,600.
“However, those who earn too much to receive Obamacare subsidies would be better off under the GOP plan no matter their age. For 2017, the thresholds to qualify are $47,500 for individuals and $97,200 for families of four.
“So a 21-year-old earning $68,200 in 2026 would pay $1,450 under the House bill, but $5,100 under Obamacare. A 64-year-old would face an annual premium of $14,600, compared to $15,300 under Obamacare.”
Do you support this plan? Will this repeal and replace Obamacare?
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos