Tribune-Democrat: Why we need the American Health Care Act
by: Keith Rothfus
When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, we were promised we would see lower premiums, that we could keep our plan, that we could keep our doctor and that there were no taxes on the middle class. All of these were false.
Pennsylvanians’ premiums have increased an average of 120 percent since 2013, and individuals saw increases of up to 53 percent in their premiums, in some cases higher, in the last year alone. I, too, saw a staggering increase, as I do not participate in the congressional health plan.
When I got my notice last November, my monthly premium was scheduled to go from $1,426 to $1,884, a 32 percent increase. I switched to a more affordable plan, but my wife lost her doctor in the process. One constituent shared his notice from a different insurer. His monthly premiums were going from $2,912 to a staggering $4,469, a 53 percent increase!
Exchanges across the country are collapsing. One third of counties in the U.S., including 11 in western Pennsylvania, have only one insurer on the exchange. Of the 23 ACA insurance co-ops, 17 have gone bankrupt, resulting in a $2 billion loss to taxpayers.
Yet proponents of the ACA still have no solutions to offer except more deficit spending and more government control to fix the clearly broken health care law.
The American Health Care Act (AHCA) offers a way forward by moving away from Washington mandates and toward flexibility and choice, all while preserving protections for those with pre-existing conditions, saving Medicaid from bankruptcy and providing states with a significant $138 billion state stability fund.
AHCA expands health savings accounts and replaces Obamacare’s subsidies with advanceable, refundable tax credits that increase with age, so that as Americans’ health care needs grow, so too will the assistance they receive through tax credits.
Further, with regard to older Americans not yet eligible for Medicare, our bill will strengthen the individual health care market, bringing down premiums for everyone.
Obamacare’s misguided age-rating policy has led to insurance pools with older, less healthy individuals, while driving younger, healthier individuals out of the insurance markets, resulting in higher premiums for millions of Americans.
Contrary to opponents’ claims that our bill simply and unjustifiably costs older Americans more than younger people (which Obamacare already does), our bill includes a provision that operates to create an additional $90 billion reserve that the Senate can use to address premiums in the individual market for the age 50-64 cohort.
Importantly, the AHCA expressly prohibits any insurer from denying coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition. Insurers are banned from rescinding coverage or from excluding benefits based on a pre-existing condition. They are also prevented from raising premiums on individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage.
The AHCA saves Medicaid from bankruptcy while grandfathering in all current enrollees and maintaining the same eligibility requirements as Obamacare for new enrollees.
Medicaid is currently expected to cost taxpayers over $1 trillion dollars annually by 2026. By expanding Medicaid, Obamacare treats able-bodied adults above the poverty line more favorably than the groups Medicaid was originally designed to serve – such as the elderly and disabled – by reimbursing their care at a nearly 38 percent higher rate in the state of Pennsylvania.
The AHCA unwinds this distortion for ACA-expansion enrollees coming in after 2020, and transitions Medicaid to a per capita model, which President Bill Clinton and liberal senators such as Joe Biden, Diane Feinstein, and Ted Kennedy all supported at one time.
AHCA also delivers relief from nearly $1 trillion in Obamacare taxes that have driven up costs for consumers, killed jobs, decreased wages, and directly hurt low- and middle-income Americans by driving up the cost of health insurance, prescription drugs and over the counter medications.
Our bill eliminates the individual and employer mandate penalties, which have been major obstacles to hiring new workers and increased wages, the Medical Device Tax, the Health Insurance Tax and the tax on prescription medications.
Proponents of the failing status quo continue to put out significant misinformation about the AHCA, but this bill brings relief to those who have been hurting under the crushing costs and dwindling choices of Obamacare and protects Americans from the government-run health care that many of Obamacare’s defenders are now selling.
The Senate now has an opportunity to add its ideas and the House is committed to further legislation to expand association health plans and individual health pools, allow purchasing of insurance across state lines and reforming medical malpractice laws, all of which will help control costs.
People can learn more about the AHCA at readthebill.gop.