Ever since the moment that the Affordable Care Act was passed, Republican congress members have been clamoring to “repeal and replace.” Repeal they have tried — dozens upon dozens of times — to do, but repeatedly failed to accomplish. As for replace? Well, they never quite managed to pull together a new plan to offer up instead.
That has changed. Three Republican Senators announced their own version of health care reform, The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment Act. Drafted and introduced by North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the proposal will “fulfill the promise to lower health care costs, advance patient-centered reforms, and provide needed relief from job-crushing mandates, while at the same time ensuring affordable health care for patients and taxpayers.”
Unsurprisingly, like any time the GOP starts talking about “responsibility and empowerment,” what that really means is that taxpayers should shoulder a greater burden, and businesses should reap the benefits.
So, what will this GOP version of health care reform do that Obamacare didn’t? A lot, and none of it good.
Repeal the rule on coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions: One of the big victories of the ACA was that those with pre-existing conditions could finally be covered by health insurance, since no one could be turned down and the maximum out of pockets were capped. The GOP plan also deals with pre-existing conditions, but only on their terms. You cannot be rejected for insurance due to a pre-existing condition, as long as you don’t let your coverage lapse. If you do, you have one chance to enroll in their plan, otherwise, you’re out of luck. The proposal says it helps “incentivize responsible behaviors.” But in reality, no, it means that any lapse is likely to permanently keep a person out of affordable coverage, a key reform in Obamacare.
Leave capping lifetime expenses up to states: Obamacare places a limit on how much a person will pay in their lifetime for health care, a huge issue for those who have had serious illnesses and have bankrupted themselves paying for hospital bills. The GOP plan would change that. “Our proposal would repeal this costly mandate and return the power of regulating health insurance to the states, which have historically been the primary regulators of health insurance.” To help people save money in the beginning, they have agreed to allow a potential cap, but then allow the states to decide later if they want to keep that cap in place or make a small or larger cap. Needless to say, losing your livelihood to hospital bills would then be dependent on where you live.
Let people be allowed to purchase catastrophic insurance again: Sounds innocuous, but the devil is in the detail. “And rather than being forced to buy the kind of insurance that the federal government mandates you must buy like is happening under Obamacare, under our proposal individuals would have the freedom to choose the health plan that best meets their individual healthcare needs.” In other words, catastrophic plans would be allowed again, with companies and individuals purchasing coverage that for a smaller monthly fee really covers almost nothing in the case of a real illness. That not only leaves the overall economic well being of many Americans one car accident from total peril, but undermines the health of the overall insurance pools, too.
Reinstate the gender gap: With insurance companies once more allowed to decide what to cover and no minimum mandatory requirements, that means that the companies can once more charge women more simply for being women. No more sexual health care being automatically a part of your basic plan, no more maternity coverage without extra payments, and especially no more no co-pay birth control.
In otherwords, the GOP plan would take us right back to where we were before the ACA went into effect. When you think about it, that’s not a “replace” at all. It’s just simply “repeal.”
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