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Republicans Release Plan to Replace the Affordable Care Act

First and foremost, this plan is looking to repeal the Affordable Care Act and put an end to Medicaid expansion.

By Vera Gruessner

It is well-known the the GOP base has attempted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for years since its passage. However, the big question that everyone has always wondered is what the Republicans would replace the Affordable Care Act with. The answer has finally come. House Speaker Paul Ryan announced the details of a replacement plan this week, according to Kaiser Health News.

Affordable Care Act

Much of the plan to replace the Affordable Care Act has some of the typical factors often cited by Republicans such as a health savings account, high-risk pools, and the ability to sell health plans across state borders.

Another major point worth mentioning that the replacement plan would include is the raising of the Medicare eligibility age to 67 starting in 2020. Despite these talking points, Kaiser Health News reports that there were few financial details regarding the costs needed to implement a new healthcare law and replace the Affordable Care Act. There was no mention of how much it would cost to integrate these provisions into the current healthcare system.

“The proposal introduced by Speaker Ryan is nothing more than vague and recycled ideas to take health insurance away from millions and increase costs for seniors and hardworking families,” White House Assistant Press Secretary Katie Hill told the news source.

First and foremost, this plan is looking to repeal the Affordable Care Act and put an end to Medicaid expansion, which would strip away healthcare coverage from large subsets of low-income people. In fact, most of the coverage requirements under state Medicaid programs would be removed and states would have to choose themselves how much funding to set aside for the health coverage of their low-income populations.

READ MORE: Patients with Pre-Existing Conditions Need Affordable Care Act

Within the replacement plan, which is called A Better Way: Our Vision for a Confident America, there is no mention how the extra 20 million people who have gained health insurance coverage since the ACA passed would be able to remain insured.

“Make no mistake, Ryan’s approach is not a better way forward, but a bitter path backward that returns us to the bad old days when vast swaths of Americans were left to the tender mercies of the insurance industry and could not afford needed care,” Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack told Kaiser Health News.

Essentially, the Republican base and its replacement plan may actually restrict healthcare access among the many families who have gained coverage since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Nonetheless, those with pre-existing conditions would still have coverage while young adults would be allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26.

The replacement plan would also make health insurance more expensive for older adults by creating a broader range of premium costs based on age. The current reforms have required insurance companies to charge older generations no more than three times the cost of younger adults. The replacement plan would eliminate this cost threshold. Additionally, the provisions and repeal of the ACA may reduce access to medical needs for women, stated Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

“Paul Ryan is right when he claims that a ‘confident America’ is one where ‘every American has access to quality, affordable health care. But the proposal he and his fellow House Republicans laid out today does nothing to work toward that goal. Eliminating the guarantee of coverage for maternal health care and birth control means not only aren’t women receiving quality health care but they're damned if they don't want to get pregnant and damned if they do,” Hogue said in a public statement.

READ MORE: Affordable Care Act Brought Healthcare Coverage to Rural Areas

“House Republicans keep claiming they care about women’s health, but their hypocrisy is on full display when their ‘plans’ do nothing but obliterate meaningful health care coverage for women and families. And frankly, how ‘pro-life’ can you really be when your policies make life miserable for families across the country? Total and utter hypocrisy.”

High-risk pools would be open for people with pre-existing conditions who have had a break in coverage or didn’t purchase a health plan during a one-time open enrollment period. However, those with pre-existing conditions who have continuous coverage would not be required to move into high-risk pools.

Managed care plans would also become a backbone of the Medicare program if the replacement plan was ever to become law. Essentially, the GOP replacement plan looks to preserve the Medicare program for future generations by further building on initiatives like Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.

Another important difference is that the GOP replacement plan looks to abolish the ACA’s individual mandate and no longer require that every American have health insurance or else face a tax penalty. This would further restrict healthcare access among many families. Within the individual health insurance marketplace, this plan would offer tax credits to each person or family regardless of income.

The future of the healthcare industry as well as the health insurance space is dependent upon the legislation that moves through the Senate and the House of Representatives over the coming years.

READ MORE: Affordable Care Act Replacement Seeks Automatic Enrollment


Dig Deeper:

What Repealing the Affordable Care Act Would Mean for America

Court Sides with Republicans on Affordable Care Act Provision


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