The long-promised GOP healthcare bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act went live on ReadTheBill.GOP on Monday night.
The 50-plus page bill, known as the “American Health Care Act,” aims to eliminate the individual mandate requiring people to purchase health insurance as well as the employer mandate which makes companies that have more than 50 full-time employees provide coverage.
It will also phase out the federal insurance subsidies, replacing them with individual refundable tax credits to help users purchase healthcare. It instead focuses heavily on health savings accounts and ending some of the Obamacare legislation’s taxes and penalties.
“By enhancing HSAs, we’ll empower individuals and families to spend their money how they see fit,” House Speaker Paul Ryan wrote on his official website.
“We dismantle Obamacare’s damaging taxes and mandates so states can deliver quality affordable options,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said in a statement.
The 2010 legislation is the Obama administration’s signature domestic policy. The legislation expanded coverage to an estimated 20 million Americans through its marketplace plans and Medicaid expansion — one reason why the bill may falter once the voting process begins.
The bill’s plans to restructure Medicaid — including ending expansion by 2020 and capping funds — could be met with fierce opposition by Democrats and key Republicans from states that rely on Obamacare’s Medicaid policies.
The bill addresses one of the biggest criticisms of Obamacare by eliminating government penalties for uninsured Americans. The bill, instead, allows insurance companies to impose a 30% surcharge on premiums for individuals allow their healthcare plans to lapse.
However, the bill preserves some of Obamacare’s more popular parts, like maintaining coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and allowing people to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. But that’s caused some Republicans to call it a watered-down version of Obamacare.
“Still have not seen an official version of the House Obamacare replacement bill, but from media reports this sure looks like Obamacare Lite!” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweeted.
Other controversial aspects of the bill include its plans to bar organizations like Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursements and federal family planning grants and ending rate regulations that previously barred insurers from charging older citizens more.
The Trump administration declined to officially endorse the bill, although White House officials did make remarks.
“House just introduced the bill to
#RepealAndReplace #Obamacare. Time to end this nightmare,” President Trump tweeted from the official White House Twitter account shortly after the bill went live Monday.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the bill “marks an important step toward restoring healthcare choices and affordability back to the American people.”
The bill ultimately needs approval by the full House and Senate before it hits the Oval Office. House committees are expected to start voting on parts of the bill Wednesday.
A downloadable version of the American Health Care Act is available here.