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GOP Healthcare Bill Update

Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare have taken a step forward last Thursday, May 4th. The Republican bill, the American Health Care Act, just narrowly passed through the House of Representatives by a vote of 217 to 213. The bill has been changed since the last time Republicans tried to bring a health care bill to the floor of the house. Let's explore the new changes and take a look at the future of the American Health Care Act as it moves from the House of Representatives into the Senate. 

The Changes

One of the first major changes to the new version of the American Health Care Act, that won over the Freedom Caucus, is an amendment that significantly loosens the regulations placed on health insurance providers who sell individual plans to people who purchase insurance independent of employment or the Federal Government. In simple terms, this new amendment to the bill allows insurance providers to set their insurance prices based on how healthy a person is. Under Obamacare, insurers were not allowed to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions or sex. It is important to note that the elderly and smokers could be charged a little bit more under Obamacare, but there was a cap. The American Health Care Act attempts to mitigate the problem of pre-existing conditions and unaffordable care by creating high-risk pools that will be funded through subsidies and waivers. As of now, all reasonable estimates say that these high-risk pools will be extremely underfunded and people with pre-existing conditions will see a significant spike in premium costs or lose their insurance all together. 

Insurance prices will go down under the American Health Care Act for healthy, young people. For those who buy health care on the private market place already and do not qualify for state subsidies their insurance costs will go up as a result of this new legislation. The elderly can be charged up to five times more for the same or less coverage than they are already receiving, and subsidies in general would be based on age so even if an individual did qualify for subsidies under Obamacare, under the new American Health Care Act the amount of subsidy they receive would only be dependent on their age and income. Location and other adjustment factors that Obamacare took into account to ensure that everyone had access to reasonably priced health care would not be part of the new plan. 

Perhaps the biggest change is there is no longer a mandate for essential health benefits. Which means, insurers can sell plans for certain things like maternity and hospital care, while not covering cancer treatments or more specialized procedures in the same plan. Basically, this means that when you purchase health insurance you must possess some sort of intuition as to what aspects of your health you need to have covered and what aspects you can do without. Clearly, in the case of a male they do not need maternity care or pre-natal care, but how can anyone plan for disease and other conditions that can potentially rise at a moments notice?

The Future of The Bill

The new version of the American Health Care Act just narrowly passed through the House of Representatives. The bill faces even stauncher opposition in the Senate. The most likely scenario that will unfold is that the Senate rewrites large portions of the bill, which Majority Leader Mcconnell and a team of 13 other Republican Senators are doing right now, and if that rewrite can pass the Senate, it will go back to the House, where a number of hard line Republicans have already stated that if there are any changes they would not be voting for it again (The Freedom Caucus). One United States Senator, Bernie Sanders, said the bill as it is in its current form would never pass the United States Senate.