Congress reconvened on Tuesday, September 5th after a month-long break with a pretty big to-do list and the pressure of a nation to quickly vote on a number of items. It’s hard to say what should be their number one priority, but healthcare has been one of the most debated topics since President Donald Trump’s inauguration. We obviously believe it should be given great focus. Now, fighting for center stage is also a potential federal default and consequently a government shutdown, recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey, and potential catastrophic damages from Hurricane Irma.
Since the GOP gained control of all the branches of government, one of the first things they wanted to accomplish was to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Before breaking for their summer at the end of July, the House tried to pass three different health care plans to repeal & replace the ACA but were short a few crucial votes each time. This is the latest on the pending vote and the implications of repealing without a replacement.
Timeline of the GOP’s Healthcare Push
The House of Representative’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) was first introduced on March 6th, 2017, but was pulled the day it was to be voted on after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report that estimated about 14 million more people (and counting as time passes) would be uninsured next year if the original AHCA were enacted.
Then the AHCA was revised and the House narrowly passed the bill, with 217-213 votes, onto the Senate. The CBO then released another report stating that the AHCA would reduce the deficit by $119 billion over 10 years, but leave 23 million more Americans without health insurance compared to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The Senate revised the House’s AHCA and drafted the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which still received scrutiny from both parties and another dismal report from the CBO stating that 22 million more would be uninsured by 2026. Voting on a replacement has been delayed several times due to not having enough GOP votes to pass the bill, and Republicans only have until the end of September to repeal with 51 votes. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, has announced that they are still moving forwarding with the goal of repealing the ACA.
What Happens When ACA is Repealed Without a Replacement
Any attempts at repealing the ACA without a replacement will likely be blocked, but some Republicans (including the President) are considering repealing without an immediate replacement. They are moving forward and have crafted the following still evolving proposal for repealing with 23 days until the end of the month:
- Funneling the ACA’s federal dollars directly to the states
- Revoking the requirement that people have to buy coverage and that companies offer it to employees
- Halt subsidies that reduce consumers’ out-of-pocket costs
- Repeal the tax on some medical devices
If repealing without a replacement isn’t blocked, a possible scenario is:
- At least 18 million people would lose health insurance immediately
- Premiums would rise 20-25% within the first year
- 32 million would be uninsured by 2026 and premiums would double
What’s Next In Healthcare Reform Efforts
State insurance commissioners have considerable power and probably the hardest job amid the health care reform turmoil. Their job is to keep the healthcare market stable and ensure patients have affordable care by holding insurers accountable and bringing the best access to health care to their respective states.
The commissioners met on Wednesday, September 6th to testify before the Senate health committee to talk about market stability and how to ensure patients have affordable health care. Four hearings were held on Wednesday, September 6th when a few of the State Insurance Commissioners testified during the three-hour long meeting. Five state Governors were slated to speak on Thursday, September 7th with two more meetings on September 12th and 14th. Senator Alexander hopes to come to a consensus by the end of next week so that Congress can act accordingly by the end of September.
AgentLink is here to equip you, as an agent, to help your clients maximize their employee benefits while minimizing expenses for them. We understand that the uncertain future of the healthcare industry can seem daunting, but our team members are here for you, especially our Benefits Department who can help run quotes quickly, customize plans for small and large group clients, maintain compliance, and educate the workforce. Our benefits include Major Medical, Dental, Vision, Life, Group Disability, Worksite, and Level Funded. We also offer tools for quoting, Life tools, Life forms, and more. Keep an eye on our blog for more to come on this important industry topic!