On March 20, 2017, Republicans proposed the American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA). The bill focused on reallocating funding to reduce healthcare costs for patients. The major proposals included:
- Repealing the penalties associated with the individual and large employer mandates for minimum essential health coverage, and other Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) taxes and tax increases;
- Revising the rules allowing for greater use of health savings accounts; and
- Establishing a refundable tax credit for certain taxpayers who purchase health insurance on the individual market starting in 2020.
The bill did not propose changes to the following provisions of the Affordable Care Act that the majority of Americans approved of: (1) preexisting conditions provisions; (2) coverage of adult children until age 26; (3) out of pocket expenditures cap; and (4) the prohibition against health status underwriting.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimated that enacting the bill would reduce the federal deficit by $150 billion by 2026 and decrease the average premium payment 10 percent by 2026.
The AHCA was the first of a three-step plan. The second step involved stabilizing the insurance markets, increasing coverage choice for patients, loosening financial restrictions on the exchange, and curbing abuses of the enrollment processes. The final step would take place outside of the budget conciliation process and would allow health insurance to be sold across state lines, streamline the FDA generic medicine approval process to reduce prescription costs, allow small businesses to join together to negotiate for lower health insurance costs, and reduce doctors’ incentives to perform unnecessarily costly medical procedures.
NOTE: This general summary of the law should not be used to solve individual problems since slight changes in the fact situation may require a material variance in the applicable legal advice.
Lucas Murray is an attorney with the law firm of Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths & Dougherty Co., LPA, in Canton, Ohio.
*Part One appeared in the MD News January-February issue on Page 12.