After much ado, House Republicans have released their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare). If passed, millions of people could lose health coverage, and Planned Parenthood will be entirely stripped of funding.
CNN reports that the bill was unveiled today sans Congressional Budget Office score. A CBO score would identify the number of people losing coverage as a result of the ACA repeal. It’s telling that House Republicans did not procure this score before introducing the bill. They’re no doubt concerned about a public outcry when it’s clear just how many Americans will lose their health insurance. (And the lack of a CBO score indeed suggests that many, many of us will lose coverage.)
The bill exists in two parts, which you can read in full here and here. But for now, let’s walk through a few specifics that are likely to provoke heated debate.
- The bill proposes that Medicaid be restructured so that, each year, every state receives a set sum of money from the federal government. Each state will then, in turn, make available tax credits that can be used by individuals to purchase health insurance. This provision in particular, experts warn, could result in large swaths of Americans losing coverage.
- For the most part, the bill replicates Obamacare’s protections for those with preexisting conditions. However, it permits insurance companies to charge higher premiums to individuals whose coverage has lapsed.
- Planned Parenthood will lose all federal funding.
Although the bill has been released, Republicans are by no means unified regarding its provisions. Hardline conservatives argue that the proposed tax credits system may as well be an “entitlement plan.” For example, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky calls the new plan “Obamacare Lite.” Other members of the GOP have, in fact, argued that they will not support a bill that would deny millions Medicaid.
But as CNN notes, the aim in replacing the Affordable Care Act was never to ensure more health coverage for Americans. Indeed, its primary tenets indicate that it was not designed with that intent. Republicans have promised “more flexibility,” but if lower income families cannot afford sufficient coverage, options—however various they may be—are moot.
Democrats vehemently protest efforts to repeal and replace the ACA, so they are sure to contest this bill on the House floor. And last week, as Republicans held town hall meetings with constituents, they were met with angry demands to keep Obamacare in place. Unsurprisingly, these entreaties were overlooked.
The replacement bill must weather brutal critiques from both parties before there is any possibility of it passing. But to publicize a fully drafted bill is a significant—and chilling—development. We will keep you updated as we learn more.
In the meantime, you can find you representatives’ contact information here. Give them a call.