Healthcare

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How You Can Resist
How You Can Resist
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Updates
Recent Updates
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  • 6/22/2017 Senate Republicans have released a "discussion draft" of their bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. A vote is planned for before the July 4th recess. [1] [2]
  • 6/18/2017 Senate Democrats are considering shutting down the Senate in an attempt to force GOP to show their healthcare repeal bill. This bill is being negotiated in secret among some Republicans. To do this, they may:
    • hold the Senate floor for a long period;
    • refuse to hold committee meetings; or
    • refuse to allow routine business in the Senate.[3]
  • 6/10/2017 The Trump Administration is showing signs of delaying the payments of Obamacare cost-sharing subsidies. These funds are critical to keep insurance companies on Obamacare exchanges. The White House has also signaled that Congress may need to appropriate funds in the event they decide not to fund it. Meanwhile Obamacare deserts are continuing to spread. [4]
  • 6/06/2017 Budget reconciliation, also called simply “reconciliation,” lets the Senate majority pass legislation with 50 votes, instead of the usual 60. [5] The health care bill passed by the House complies with the Senate’s reconciliation process, which means it will only take 50 votes to pass the Senate version. [6]
  • 6/05/2017 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes to send a private draft bill of the the Senate's AHCA to the Congressional Budget Office this week. [7]
  • 6/05/2017 The Senate hopes to bring an Obamacare repeal bill to a vote. Many Republicans are pessimistic about getting to the 50 vote threshold, because a consensus has been hard to come to. Prominent Republican Senator Cornyn says that the Senate bill mirror about 80% of the AHCA. [8] [9]

What We Know About the Senate Healthcare Bill
What We Know About the Senate Healthcare Bill
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The U.S. Senate is taking up their version of the American Healthcare Act. Senate Republicans plan to draft the bill behind closed doors and releasing the draft right before it comes up for a vote, planned for the end of June.The Senate has taken up the "Obamacare repeal" bill passed by the House. This will allow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to speed up repeal efforts through a process known as “Rule 14.” This rule will allow the repeal bill to be put directly on the Senate calendar, so that it is immediately available for a floor vote when Republicans are ready to vote on it. [10] There will likely be no committee hearings on the bill. [11] The bill will probably be introduced with no hearings and no input from Democrats. The reasoning behind this can be explained by how unpopular the House Bill and the dominating news coverage of Donald Trump's Russia ties. [12] [13]

Here are some things Senate Republicans are discussing to get to the 50 vote threshold: [14]

  • 1. How to end Medicaid expansion and over how many years.
  • 2. How deep the Medicaid program is going to be cut.
  • 3. By how much to unwind pre-existing protections, in a way that would diminish guaranteed comprehensive coverage under Obamacare.
  • 4. How to subsidize insurance for those on the individual market.
  • 5. Whether to impose waivers for states to opt out of Essential Health Benefits, one of Obamacare's cornerstone regulations.

Impact of American Health Care Act (Part II)
Impact of Health Care Bill Passed by the House
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The American Health Care Act (Part II) is a Republican replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act that was narrowly passed by the House of Representatives on May 4, 2017. There were two big changes made at the last minute: First, the GOP tacked on an extra $8 Billion for High Risk Pools, which knocks the savings down to $142.3 billion. Secondly, they added an option for individual states to opt out of the pre-existing condition protections, which would let carriers strip policies down to bare bones, charge those with such conditions more for coverage and so on. [15]

General Impacts[edit]

  • Unusually, this version of the bill was passed before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office could make a report on how many people would be covered under the bill and how much it would cost. Now that it has been completed, the new CBO score for the new AHCA (Upton Amendment included) has projected a loss of coverage for 23 million people in a decade. [16] It also estimates that 1/6 of the population will see a destabilization in their insurance markets by 2020. [17]

FIND UPDATED COVERAGE LOSSES BY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT[18]

HEALTH COVERAGE LOSSES BY STATE (CBO SCORE UPDATE)

CBOscore by state.png

Impacts of Essential Health Benefits waivers.

  • The bill allows states to waive (not require) rules requiring insurance companies to cover Essential Health Benefits, and rules that prevent insurance companies from charging some people more than others (known as community rating rules).[19]. This could leave sicker people, those with pre-existing conditions, with higher costs, pushing them into expensive high-risk pools (which are supposed to reduce costs for the healthier population, but cost the state and individuals a lot of money).
  • More than 130 million non-elderly Americans have preexisting conditions (chronic illnesses or past illnesses), and under the AHCA such people could end up spending thousands more on health insurance than they did under Obamacare. If a state files these waivers, it will be easier for insurers to discriminate against people who have a history of having more health problems.[20] *The average extra cost for certain health conditions can be seen here.

Impacts on people with pre-existing conditions and community health ratings

  • The provision that allows young adults to stay under their parents' insurance until they turn 26 is still included in the new bill.[21]
  • This table shows what premiums will be required of single people making 175 percent the federal poverty line. It shows that the AHCA raises premiums for older, poor Americans by as much as 850%

AHCA1.jpeg

Healthcare from Employers[edit]

  • Under the AHCA, employers in states that use waivers can choose which regulations (10 Essential Health Benefits and requirements that would protect people with pre-existing conditions) they want to follow, to help lower the costs of their insurance plans. A company that operates in two states can drop protections allowed in one state, and use that same healthcare policy in another state that doesn't have a waiver. It's not clear whether employers would actually drop those protections. [22]
  • Employers will not be required to offer insurance dating back to the beginning of 2016, and small businesses won't get tax credits to help offer insurance to their employees starting in 2020.[23]

Healthcare from Medicaid/Medicare[edit]

  • One of the main ways Obamacare increased insurance coverage was by expanding the Medicaid program to cover millions more low-income Americans. Before Obamacare, Medicaid was restricted to specific groups of low-income Americans (including pregnant women, the blind and the disabled). Obamacare opened up the program to anyone below 133% of the poverty line (about $15,000 for an individual) in the 31 states that opted to participate. Allowing more people to participate in Medicaid helped lower the rates for those who were uninsured. AHCA would end Medicaid expansion in 2020 and cut the program by $880 billion [24]. Medicaid participation changes frequently because people's financial situation determines whether they are eligible. People who need to go back on Medicaid again, or for the first time, will not be able to do so after 2020.[25]
  • The per-person limits on Medicaid spending will disproportionately harm the people who need health care the most, including people with disabilities and the elderly.[26]. The government would reimburse states using a "block grant," or one lump sum, instead of per-person payments. This would allow states to kick people off care, charge premiums, and cut benefits for children.[27]
  • Phasing out the Medicaid expansion would disproportionately impact Americans with disabilities, 10 million of whom are currently covered by Medicaid.[28] The new proposal could also shift money away from schools, which receive Medicaid reimbursements for speech and occupation therapy, wheelchairs, and specialized playground equipment.[29]

Private Healthcare[edit]

  • The Congressional Budget Office has not yet estimated how the cost of privately purchased health care would change.
  • The White House and House GOP members agreed to an amendment, the Upton Amendment, that adds $8 billion over 5 years to help sicker people pay for health insurance. But this amount of money is probably only enough to cover 76,000 of the 130 million people living with a pre-existing condition. Such people are put in so-called high-risk pools, with very high insurance premiums.[30][31] The Center for American Progress estimates that the Upton Amendment will have "almost no effect".[32]

Tax Cuts for the Wealthy[edit]

  • Obamacare included tax increases that hit wealthy Americans hardest in order to pay for its coverage expansion. The AHCA would get rid of those taxes increases, leading to tax cuts of $883 billion. Most of these would benefit the wealthy, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Obamacare was one of the biggest redistributions of wealth from the rich to the poor; the AHCA would reverse that.[33]
  • The bill discontinues two taxes that helped to pay for Obamacare—a Medicare payroll tax and a 3.8% tax on investment income for people who earn over $200,000 (or couples who earn over $250,000).[34]
  • The bill lets people save more of their money in tax-free health savings accounts (about twice as much as what was allowed with ACA).[35]. This allows wealthier people to get tax breaks through a pre-tax account, grow their funds tax-free, and use this money for healthcare expenses tax-free.

Vulnerabilities[edit]

A Small Majority[edit]

In the Senate, there is a small Republican majority, of only 52 Republicans to 48 Democrats. This means that Republicans can only afford to lose three supporting votes.[36]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can try to pass the bill through "budget reconciliation," which is a simple majority vote, rather than the typical 2/3 majority required to pass legislation to overcome a filibuster. Budget reconciliation cannot be filibustered.[37]

Budget Reconciliation/The Byrd Rule[edit]

One of the process’s most important provisions is that reconciliation bills must be about budgets only, not changing laws. That's why the measure to repeal ACA's individual mandate penalties seems allowable. [38] The Byrd rule in the Senate requires that all provisions in a bill that goes through the reconciliation process have to deal with the federal budget. That means various parts of the AHCA, like gutting Obamacare regulations on insurers and allowing states to waive essential health benefits and protections for people with pre-existing conditions, could fail to qualify in the Senate. [39]

Midterm Elections in 2018[edit]

Because the bill has passed the House, most resistance efforts will now focus on the Senate. Republicans who support the bill and are up for re-election in 2018 are most likely to respond to pressure to oppose passing the bill. These upcoming elections are especially important considering that just 31 percent of Americans are either "favorable" or "somewhat favorable" towards the ACHA. [40] 9 Senate Republicans are up for re-election in 2018, and most of them come from consistently red states. The exceptions to this are Jeff Flake and Dean Heller.[41] If you live in one of these states, call tel:202-224-3121 and ask for these senators' offices:

What to Say When You Call: "The AHCA will cause severe negative impacts on low-income people and only benefits the wealthy. I am calling to urge the senator to vote against the healthcare bill that was passed without an assessment from the Congressional Budget Office."

Time[edit]

The Senate cannot take up the vote until the Congressional Budget Office finishes its analysis of its costs, which is expected to take one to two weeks.[42]

On Thursday, May 4, Senator John Corbyn (R-Texas) said, "We're not under any deadline, so we're going to take our time." Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) also said the version of the bill that the House approved is "definitely still not the final product."[43]

All Votes[edit]

See the complete list of how each representative voted [44].