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The Senate Passes Bill to Repeal Chunks of Affordable Care Act

The budget reconciliation bill will essentially eliminate premium subsidies, the medical device tax, a prevention and public health fund, the ‘Cadillac Tax,’ Medicaid expansion, and bailouts for health payers.

By Vera Gruessner

- On Thursday, the United States Senate voted 52 to 47 in passing a legislation that would gut major provisions within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This is the first time the Senate has approved such a bill and has the opportunity to send it to President Obama, according to The Hill.

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

While the Republican Party is looking to put an end to the Affordable Care Act, it is likely that President Obama will quickly veto the measure passed by the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) originally brought the legislation to the floor.

“For too long, Democrats did everything to prevent Congress from passing the type of legislation necessary to help these Americans who are hurting,” McConnell stated when on the Senate floor. “Today, that ends.”

Before the measure has a chance of seeing the President’s desk, the House of Representatives must pass the bill. This particular measure eliminates the federal government’s authority for running health insurance exchanges and puts an end to the subsidies offered through the exchanges to people who cannot afford healthcare coverage plans.

The measure also repeals the Medicaid expansion that has been taken by a total of 30 states. If such a bill passed and became law, this would be very troublesome to the many patients with serious medical illnesses in need of Medicaid coverage. Tax increases under the Affordable Care Act would also be scrapped if the measure is accepted.

READ MORE: The Biggest ACA Legal Challenges Facing Healthcare Industry

Additionally, the Senate voted 90 to 10 to repeal the ‘Cadillac Tax’ on high-cost coverage plans within the Affordable Care Act, The Hill reported. Nonetheless, President Obama is expected to veto these measures and the Affordable Care Act should stay intact.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) both voted in favor of repealing the ‘Cadillac Tax.’ Repealing this particular tax would be troublesome for the future of the Affordable Care Act because it would take about $90 billion away from the healthcare reform law over the course of 10 years.

On one side of the argument, the Citizen’s Council for Health Freedom (CCHF) from St. Paul, Minnesota believes that, if President Obama signs this bill into law, this particular legislation would be a win for their side while a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act would be a “bigger victory.” The budget reconciliation bill will essentially eliminate premium subsidies, the medical device tax, a prevention and public health fund, the ‘Cadillac Tax,’ Medicaid expansion, and bailouts for health payers.

“The nine-page reconciliation bill is a serious strike against the financial infrastructure of the Affordable Care Act,” said Twila Brase, president and co-founder of CCHF. “However, it does not repeal a majority of the 2,700-page law. If the House accepts and President Obama signs the bill, it would begin to unravel the destructive coverage provisions of the law—the parts of the law that the public is acutely aware of, but not the hidden parts of the law that are causing extensive damage to personal control over health care decisions and the trusted and confidential patient-doctor relationship.” 

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is asking President Obama to sign the budget reconciliation bill in an effort to “fix damage caused by Obamacare.” One of the issues that Alexander has been concerned about is the fact that the cost of premiums may go up due to the cost-related provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

READ MORE: Affordable Care Act Brings Greater Health Coverage to Texas

“Six years ago, Republicans warned the president about the disastrous consequences of Obamacare for millions of Americans,” Senator Lamar Alexander stated. “Unfortunately for these Americans, Republicans were right when we said that Obamacare would burden state Medicaid budgets, increase premiums and taxes, and hurt jobs. We need to start over and go step by step toward the goal of reducing health care costs.”

“I renew our invitation to the president, and if he doesn’t accept our invitation, I extend it to our next president: Forget about party, forget about this side or that side, and side with the American people whose premiums went up, who lost plans they liked, whose Medicare has been raided, whose state budgets have been destroyed, and whose jobs have been lost. Work with Republicans in Congress to fix the damage Obamacare has done to health care in America. Work with us to replace Obamacare with real reforms that lower costs so more Americans can afford to buy insurance.”

On the other side of the argument, the National Partnership for Women & Families sent out a statement denouncing the Senate passage of the budget reconciliation bill. In particular, the statement mentioned the bill’s aim to defund Planned Parenthood and the many provisions under the Affordable Care Act that aim to assist women and families.

“This appalling legislation guts the ACA, the greatest advance for women’s health in a generation,” Debra L. Ness, President of National Partnership for Women & Families, wrote in the public statement. “While we are grateful that President Obama will veto this legislation, its passage in both chambers is a painful reminder that Congress is badly out of touch with the country and unwilling to legislate in the best interests of women and families.” 


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