Concerned United States citizens want to know how likely is it that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed and replaced. Though speculative, the answer to the question is not an impossible one. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ACA or Obamacare, is a subject that is under much scrutiny.
What is the Affordable Care Act?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a statute that was promoted and signed into law by President Barack Obama, giving it the nickname Obamacare. In its current form, ACA requires that all United States citizens be covered under a healthcare plan. In order to accomplish this, ACA enacted the following:
– Health Insurance Overhaul
Health insurance companies are now mandated to offer insurance to anyone who applies regardless of sex or pre-existing conditions. Previously, insurance companies could deny women who may become pregnant. They could also deny anyone who had previously had illnesses or injuries that may lead to future medical needs. Further, insurance companies are now no longer able to drop coverage on individuals once they become ill. Lastly, the health insurance overhaul requires that insurance companies cover regular check-ups, vaccines and other preventative care procedures without a co-payment or deductible.
– Medicaid Expansion
This broadens the percentage of those who qualify for Medicaid. Not all states were required to enact this expansion, but those that did received additional government funding.
– Medicare Reductions
Those items that were deemed excessive have been cut from Medicare reimbursement.
– Children’s Benefits
The SCHIP enrollment program was simplified. Also, any child can now remain on their parent’s health insurance through age 26 regardless of dependent status.
– Employer Mandate
Any employer with 50 or more full-time employees must provide healthcare coverage to employees.
– Individual Mandate
All U.S. citizens must have proof of healthcare coverage or pay a penalty.
Why Repeal or Replace the Affordable Care Act?
The Kaiser Family Foundation has held public polling nearly every month since 2010, when Obamacare was first established. More than half of those polled hold positive views on ACA. The remainder have various reasons for wishing to repeal the law.
The primary reason those polled give for opposing Obamacare is the personal financial cost. The average increase in the cost of health insurance premiums went up by 25 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the Department of Health and Human Services ASPE Research Brief. Other top reasons for opposing ACA are the belief that being compelled to purchase health insurance infringes on constitutional rights and that it is too complicated to understand.
Politicians often state that they wish to repeal Obamacare because the cost is too high for the government, employers, individuals, and insurance companies.
What Alternatives Have Been Presented
A few alternatives have been touted by Republican lawmakers. The most recent is the Graham-Cassidy bill, spearheaded by South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy. This bill provided block grant funding to states that are then able to spend that money as they see fit. The bill also removes the individual mandate, meaning people could once again choose not to have health insurance. It also removes the employer mandate and any money provided to states for Medicaid expansion.
Other alternatives have been brought before the Senate, but have failed. Notably was the Skinny Repeal, which would remove the individual mandate, the employer mandate for eight years, defund Planned Parenthood and offer contribution increases to individual Health Care Savings Accounts. Graham-Cassidy is the last effort to pass a repeal and replace law prior to the September 30 deadline.
The end of the fiscal year on September 30 is the last date Republicans can pass a repeal and replace law with only 50 votes. How likely is it that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed and replaced? Not very likely, at least not soon.