What You Need to Know About the New GOP Health Care Plan
After seven years of nonstop handwringing, GOP lawmakers have finally made some progress in their promise to undo the Affordable Care Act. On Monday, House Republicans unveiled two draft laws that, taken together, provide a sketch for what the future of health care in America will look like. There is still a long way to go: hardline conservatives in the House have already admonished the new GOP health care plan for not changing enough; some GOP Senators have expressed reluctance to pull back Medicaid too much; and, of course, Democrats will be pushing back hard while the Republican-controlled Congress tries to push its new health care vision. Here is what you need to know.
What Won’t Change?
Though Obamacare has been the target of much Republican ire over the past seven years, some of the law’s most popular tenets would remain unchanged under the new law. For one, young adults can remain on their parents’ health plan until the age of 26, so many millennials can breathe a sigh of relief. In addition, in what was one of the ACA’s most lauded achievements, insurers will not be able to turn a customer with preexisting conditions away, or charge them more. Critics say that retaining these Obamacare staples while overhauling other elements is untenable. Remember, the GOP plan revealed on Monday is a rough draft, sure to go through many edits before any laws are actually changed.
What Will Change?
Mainly: tax credits. Income-based tax credits will still be part of the plan, but they will be phased out over time. Instead, tax credits will shift to an age-based model. Under 30? You’re eligible for $2,000 per year. Sixty or older? You could be eligible for as much as $4,000. Families would also receive more. Another change: in lieu of the mandate–Obamacare imposed a tax on the uninsured–insurers can levy a 30 percent increase on premiums if your insurance lapses.
Medicaid would be significantly altered under the Republican plan. Essentially, the federal government would pay a per-person cash allotment to individual states. The amount given would be determined by different categories of a state’s residents: children, elderly, people with disabilities. Mirroring the Republican ethos, the plan takes a bottom-up approach (states have more flexibility) rather than a top-down one (the federal government calls the shots). In addition, Planned Parenthood could stop receiving federal funding for one year.
The changes to Medicaid could be a step too far for some Republicans. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), four GOP Senators expressed their concerns. “We will not support a plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states,” Senators Rob Portman (OH), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Cory Gardner (CO), and Lisa Murkowski (AK) wrote.
What Happens Next?
More handwringing and, most likely, Republican infighting. In the coming days, two House committees, Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce, will review the plan. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has said he hopes to get the full House to vote on the bill by the April 7 recess. The legislation faces a rocky road ahead. A number of House caucuses, including the Tea Party stalwart the Freedom Caucus, have branded the new health plan as “Obamacare Lite” and “Obamacare 2.0.” Whether hardline conservatives will squeeze more of their priorities into the final bill remains to be seen.
And of course, it is highly likely that no Democrats, in the House or the Senate, will support the plan. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, had this to say about the newly revealed Republican plan: “Republicans will force tens of millions of families to pay more for worse coverage — and push millions of Americans off of health coverage entirely.”
But President Donald Trump, who promised to revamp Obamacare during his first days in office, is confident the plan will pass:
Our wonderful new Healthcare Bill is now out for review and negotiation. ObamaCare is a complete and total disaster – is imploding fast!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 7, 2017