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First Attempt at Obamacare Replacement Appears Costly for Older Americans

Written by: Kimberly Commito on Monday, March 13, 2017 Posted in: HME/DME, Home Infusion, Specialty Pharmacy

On March 6, 2017, just one week ago, Congressional Republicans released the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which is their first attempt at a replacement for Obamacare (a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act). While the new AHCA attempts to maintain some of what Americans liked most about Obamacare, some notable critics quickly lined up against the new plan.

According to a report from CNBC, Americans appreciate that Obamacare allows parental insurance to cover children until age 26 and that it requires insurers to cover “essential health benefits” and pre-existing conditions. However, many aren’t fans of the individual mandate, which requires that most Americans, depending on income, have qualifying health coverage or pay a penalty at the time of filing the federal tax return. These preferences, along with expanded tax credits, are reflected in the Republicans’ plan. (1)

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As good as tax credits sound, these actually are a serious area of concern for critics because they are likely to result in higher costs for older, low-income Americans. And, of course, that’s why AARP was quick to voice opposition. In a letter to Congress, AARP Senior Vice President Joyce Rogers wrote that the bill would “weaken Medicare’s fiscal sustainability, dramatically increase health care costs for Americans aged 50-64, and put at risk the health care of millions of children and adults with disabilities [as well as that of] poor seniors who depend on the Medicaid program for long-term services and supports and other benefits.” (2)

Another big issue, as reported in USA Today, is that Medicaid expansion will be “phased out,” with no new enrollments after December 31, 2019. The 19 states that did not opt in to expansion (and additional federal funding) will no longer be able to opt in after that date. In addition, instead of guaranteed federal funds for all who qualify, the amounts of federal funds that states receive for each enrollee would also be limited. (3)

The adjustments to the Medicaid program are of serious concern to the members of the American Hospital Association (AHA), who, via a letter to Congress, say they “cannot support the American Health Care Act in its current form.” Richard Pollack, AHA’s president and CEO, wrote that the restructuring of Medicaid will result in “significant reductions in a program that provides services to our most vulnerable populations and already pays providers significantly less than the cost of providing care.” (4)

The American Medical Association (5) as well as several other healthcare organizations also expressed dissatisfaction with the AHCA. These groups were joined by members of Congress from both sides of the aisle as well as conservative political organizations—although their reasons for disappointment may differ.

Generally, however, many seem to agree with a sentiment shared by Andy Slavitt, who served as acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for a time during the Obama administration. “The president says he’s going to put forward a replacement bill that would cover the same number of people more affordably. This, unfortunately, doesn’t do that,” Slavitt added. (6) See how Mediware’s CareTend software keeps your business compliant regardless of the changes that are made in Congress.

 

Sources:

  1. GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill: Here are the winners and losers; http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/07/gops-obamacare-replacement-bill-here-are-the-winners-and-losers.html
  2. http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/politics/advocacy/2017/03/aarp-letter-to-congress-on-american-healthcare-act-march-07-2017.pdf
  3. Q&A: The facts on the Republican health care bill; http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/03/08/republican-health-care-bill-facts/98917660/
  4. http://www.aha.org/advocacy-issues/letter/2017/170307-let-aha-house-ahca.pdf
  5. https://www.ama-assn.org/sites/default/files/media-browser/public/washington/ama-letter-on-ahca.pdf
  6. GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill: Here are the winners and losers; http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/07/gops-obamacare-replacement-bill-here-are-the-winners-and-losers.html