Posted on May 05, 2017
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by a 217-213 vote May 4. Days earlier, congressional Republicans released an amendment to the AHCA, designed to repeal and replace the existing Affordable Care Act, commonly known as the ACA or "Obamacare." The amendment included additional input from the Freedom Caucus, a group of 20-plus very conservative U.S. representatives who opposed the original AHCA earlier this spring. The amendment, which did not alter the MHA’s position of opposition to the bill, made several changes that are likely to decrease the number of insured, including:
- Removal of regulations that require states to maintain essential health benefits
- Allowing insurers to charge higher premiums to individuals deemed older and/or sicker
- Weakening the individual mandate
- Implementing state high-risk pools to provide coverage for some populations that would be affected by other reduced protections
The amendment would also expedite the process by which states request and execute waivers. However, the amendment did not address or improve upon many issues of serious concern for hospitals and those they serve, including:
- Making substantial cuts to Medicaid, including the phase-out of the Healthy Michigan Plan
- Decreasing levels of cost-sharing assistance for lower-income residents buying their own insurance
- Leaving traditional Medicaid, which serves extremely vulnerable populations such as those who are disabled and elderly, unprotected in future years
The bill gained the support it needed for passage with the introduction of an additional amendment that added $8 billion over five years to help states fund high-risk pools for Americans with pre-existing conditions.
Voting among Michigan's congressional delegation was split down party lines, with the state's nine Republicans voting yes on the bill, while all five Democrats voted no. The MHA is especially disappointed that the vote took place without a revised estimate of the number of people likely to lose coverage or the cost of the legislation. The U.S. Senate will now consider the bill. Michigan Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters are both firmly against the AHCA.
The MHA has issued a media statement on this development.
The AHCA would repeal and replace the existing ACA and threatens coverage and access to care for millions of people across the nation. The MHA has long believed that every American deserves affordable, high-quality healthcare coverage and access to care in the right place at the right time. With these principles in mind, the MHA remains opposed to the AHCA and encourages members in communication with Sens. Stabenow and Peters to thank them for their continued opposition to this bill.
The MHA provides members with ACA repeal and replace tools and information online. Tools include talking points, reports and snapshots for each of Michigan's 14 congressional districts outlining the ACA impact on coverage and hospital payments.
Members with questions should contact Chris Mitchell or Laura Appel at the MHA.
Posted in: Issues in Healthcare, Member News