Elvis Presley was looking for a “little more action” in his 1968 song “A Little Less Conversation.” The world of politics is one where Representatives and Senators struggle to get things done, so it is hard for conversations to become action. Today–after six years–Republican congressmen turned conversations into action. Paul Ryan and his contemporaries unveiled their Obamacare replacement.
As part of the “A Better Way” Initiative, Paul Ryan and company gave their two cents on health care reform.
Some existing items of the Affordable Care Act won’t change. For instance, adults may stay on a parent’s health insurance plan until age 26. Also, insurance companies cannot drop or deny coverage to an individual with a pre-existing condition.
A tax credit will still be available to Americans. The Obamacare replacement calls for the issue of a refundable tax credit to help Americans purchase health insurance. The current Obamacare subsidies would be repurposed into a tax credit that does not follow the current income criteria. Age is the main determinant in doling out the proposed tax credit.
Republicans are also recycling other shelved initiatives to boost healthcare efficiency. The Obamacare replacement authors wish to allow health insurers to sell health insurance across State lines. Republicans argue that more competition from health insurers in markets drives down healthcare prices. Others argue against the practicality of such a provision: would a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Utah member have access to care in his home state of New York?
In addition, Republicans are boosting funding for high risk pools. The sickest residents of some states receive coverage through high-risk pools. The Obamacare replacement plan seeks to subsidize State risk pools with total funding of $25 billion dollars. Opponents of the high risk pools argue against this type of coverage due to high premiums, slim benefits, and long waiting periods. The high risk pools under Ryan’s plan would put a ceiling on premiums and erradicate wait lists.
Some Americans may feel the weight of other changes proposed.
For example, House Republicans wish to raise the age for Medicare eligibility. Elder citizens will now age into the program at age 67 instead age 65. In addition, the Republican healthcare overhaul allows health insurance companies to charge older members up to 5 times the premium amount of younger members.
The Affordable Care Act currently allows insurers to charge older members three times the amount of younger members.
The states who decided to expand their Medicaid program under the ACA will continue to receive the federal funding to cover the costs. States who continue to opt out of Medicaid expansion funding will have two options to fund their Medicaid Programs–block grants and per-capita allotments. Both measures seek to control costs as both allotments include finite amounts of funding.
This news comes one month after two Republican lawmakers–Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas)– introduced a bill that complements the Affordable Care Act. The HELP Act bill keeps Obamacare intact, but it offers tax credits up to $2500 per person to help Americans buy health insurance. There would be no individual mandate under the Sessions-Cassidy legislation.
The famous Elvis Presley song from 1968 calls for less conversation and more action. The fact that Paul Ryan and company transcribed thoughts to paper represents a monumental move in crafting an Obamacare replacement six years overdue. In the song, Elvis Presley seeks to be satisfied from his mystery lover, but it is inconclusive if he found satisfaction.
While the Healthcare Policy in “A Better Way” is the framework for more discussion and future execution, it is hard to tell if Republicans will ever find satisfaction in their tainted love affair with Obamacare overhaul.
Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) told politico.com: “if you live in the Republican conference…I don’t think Jesus could get everyone to agree on everything.”
Philip Strang works as a health insurance agent for American Exchange. He specializes in enrolling individuals and families into health plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace.