The Functionality and Future of an American Health Care Plan
By Mariah McLendon and David Cotton
President Donald Trump and the Republican controlled House were unable to repeal and replace the Affordable Care and Protection Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare,” so the controversial law is still in effect.
Republicans remain committed, however, to repealing and replacing the controversial law. The CSU News Team looks back on the failed Republican plan and compares and contrasts its key provisions with those of Obamacare.
Subsidies and Taxes
Under Obamacare, lower income citizens who sign up for coverage through Healthcare.gov are eligible for subsidies, which are taxpayer-funded discounts from the purchase price of health insurance. The Republicans’ plan replaced these subsidies with tax credits for those who purchase insurance. A tax credit is a deduction from your annual income taxes used as a reward for purchasing insurance. They basically amount to the same thing because they both are funded through tax dollars or discounts.
Obamacare makes it illegal for insurers to deny coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions. This is one of the most popular aspects of the law. Many people, including President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, support keeping this provision and it is included in the new plan.
Lori Stevens of Columbus believes it is crucial for all people to have health insurance at low rates.
“I mean, I’m 67,” said Stevens. “I was denied health insurance because of my heart health twice before Obamacare came along.”
Dependents on Family Plans
Another popular component of Obamacare is the provision allowing dependents to stay on parental insurance plans until they are 26 years of age.
“Allowing my children to stay on my insurance is a great deal for my kids,” said Robin Douglas of Fortson, GA, “it is the only thing I can see as a positive in Obamacare. We should keep it.”
The new proposed plan also included this provision.
Despite these similarities, there are drastic differences between Obamacare and what the Republicans proposed. Among them was the requirement for each individual citizen to purchase and maintain government approved insurance. Republicans wanted to abolish this.
If the Republicans’ plan had passed, only those who allow their insurance to lapse would pay a penalty, and it would be to the insurance company rather than to the federal government, as is the case under Obamacare.
Trump is “not giving all the power to the federal government,” says Rob Day of Columbus, “He’s giving it more to the people.”
Minimum Coverage Requirements
Obamacare mandates minimum insurance coverages for all, but with the GOP proposed plan, Americans would have been able to choose their own plan based on their individual needs and would have even had the opportunity to keep their current physician. Individuals would also have the option of not having insurance at all with no penalty. Instead of being punished for not having government-approved insurance plans, citizens would be rewarded for having any type of health insurance based on their own needs.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) results have been released with some mixed results. The CBO states that the new plan is better than the ACA and would have saved the government 300 billion dollars.
“The government has spent a lot of my tax money,” says Michael Portland of Columbus. “If they can save me a couple bucks with the new health care plan, I say go for it.”
The CBO estimates that by 2025, the number of insured people will drop by 15 Million; nearly that many will lose insurance if we continue down the path of Obamacare as well due to spiralling costs. Under the new act many people will lose insurance by choice.
The new Republican plan would cause senior citizens to pay a little more while the nation’s poorest would continue to find it difficult to purchase insurance before rates are anticipated to drop during the next phases of the plan.
The Path Forward
The Senate and House are still at odds over many parts of the plan, especially the medicaid phase-out plan that could not have moved forward until they compromised. In theory, this plan would prevent the federal government from pulling funds from Medicaid for other health care programs. Obamacare pulled much of its funds from the medicaid program, costing the federal government trillions of dollars, a debt that Republicans want to eliminate.
Senator Rand Paul (R), who is known for being a hard-line conservative, stated that he knew the new plan would never pass the Senate. The new plan did not completely repeal Obamacare and was still too expensive. Along with members of the “House Freedom Caucus,” he agrees that eliminating the most tax credits and subsidies is paramount.
Kevin Peoples of Fortson agrees. “The federal government should repeal Obamacare and replace it with nothing,” Peoples said “The federal government should abolish interstate insurance trade regulations and let society figure it out, they have no business in insurance.”
There are four basic groups within the Houses of Congress: the democrats that only support Obamacare, republicans that think their program almost complete, those that think the republican’s plan goes too far, and those that think it does not go far enough.
“I worry that there will be a compromise that will make it all worse,” said John Styron, a CSU student. “A compromise that will be the worst parts of both plans and we will all be screwed.” He followed with a quote from Ronald Reagan: “The government doesn’t fix problems, the government is the problem.”
Despite the defeat of the plan, the GOP has vowed to continue its efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare with something better.
President Trump has moved on to other issues for now, and promises to revisit this issue later in his tenure. On March 23rd, 2017, Trump issued instructions to the Internal Revenue Service directing them to not enforce fines for those without qualified insurance plans as well as to the Depart of Health and Human Services informing them that any health care plan will qualify as minimum coverage. This will The defeat of the plan in the House of Representatives and the actions of the President have ended the debate for the time being. However, the health care battle is not over. We will see it all again.