Economy

Consumer Issues Stemming From the GOP Health Care Initiative

The American Health Care Act, the Republican legislation, cuts more than $58 billion from Medicare reserves dedicated to paying for hospital care, depleting those resources two years earlier than anticipated.

As NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben reports, the BCRA is similar in many ways to the House's health care alternative, the American Health Care Act, that passed last month. That's hopelessly bonkers on a wide variety of fronts, but it's especially striking when it comes to health care.

"On Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Human Services put out a sobering estimate of the changes' impact just in this state: "The "$1.6 billion in federal funding lost in 2021 alone is roughly equal to the state cost of covering the more than 700,000 children, pregnant women and parents now on Medicaid in 2018".

President Donald Trump said he doesn't think congressional Republicans are "that far off" on passing a health overhaul to replace "the dead carcass of Obamacare" and believes his majority party is "going to get there".

Heller is the most vulnerable Republican senator up for re-election in 2018, and he represents a state that accepted the Medicaid expansion under the ACA, more commonly known as Obamacare. But the head of the state's largest hospital is anxious.

You've talked about how the Affordable Care Act isn't ideal. Trump's budget director recently questioned the importance of the Medicaid promise, which probably won't offer much comfort to families poised to suffer. Democrats said those are problems that Republicans exacerbated by not investing in the existing health care law.

Under Obama, the nation's uninsured rate dropped below 9 percent, a historic low.

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It "would have a profoundly negative impact on Americans", said John Meigs, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. The draft bill would cut Medicaid for the poor and disabled by some $800 billion and scale back subsidies created to help people afford coverage.

But Republicans, struggling to make good on a more than half-decade old pledge to dismantle Obama's signature piece of public policy, are plunging forward nonetheless.

Dr. Mott Blair of Wallace, N.C., recalls a patient who got a colonoscopy that found a polyp, which undetected could have led to colon cancer.

As a result, premiums would increase as much as 20 percent, according to government estimates, making coverage unaffordable for many people.

Trump has been expressing hope about the chances of major changes to health care, but he's not out front pushing the Senate bill, at least not yet. The House and Senate formulas for subsidies differ.

Medicaid is the federal-state funded program that provides medical coverage for the poor. But under the Senate Republican plan, the cost sharing reduction payments will be repealed at the end of 2019, and it's left up to the states to enact programs that could assist low income people with these deductibles. This required coverage of certain services that many states didn't mandate, such as maternity care and prescription drugs. If the Republican proposal does not pass, what could and should be done to strengthen what's already there?

Included among these reforms were new regulations for association health plans, where a group of small businesses pool together to have more purchasing power and get access to cheaper premiums.



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