Since the Affordable Care Act was passed, the Republicans have done whatever they could to get rid of it.
They attempted to repeal it over 44 times, shut down the government hoping to get the ACA de-funded as a way to reopen it, and then rejoiced and emphasized the problems with the web site when it was opened to the public, while ignoring that with Medicare Part D there were similar problems that they had asked at the time of its implementation that we be patient with and give it time.
The one thing they didn’t seem so quick to do is come up with an alternative.
But eventually they did.
And since turn around is fair play, perhaps looking at the republican plan’s shortcomings should not disturb those who obviously feel that such an analysis of a health plan is normal and acceptable procedure.
Now the first reaction of some might be, "Yeah, but with 'Obamacare'", but we have been hearing that, so this will fill the balance void.
On Monday, January 27, 2014, three Republican senators presented a plan that was based on deregulating the insurance industry and having the consumer paying more for health care.
The act proposed by senators Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Orrin Hatch of Utah, and Richard Burr of North Carolina is called the “Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment (CARE) Act”.
The first thing the Act would do would be to repeal “Obamacare” completely, which would throw those on it off it immediately, about 3 million in one fell swoop, and require them to enroll in new plans. It would also mean that the millions deemed eligible for expanded Medicaid would no longer be.
The Care Act would also mean that Medicaid would be funded with an imposed “per capita cap” placed on it. This would be like a block grant and would have states cover a highly selective group of people through Medicaid, basically pregnant women, women with children, and the disabled. The working poor would have to find more expensive private insurance plans.
Right now there are some consumer protections included in the Affordable Care Act. There are things like mammograms, no cost birth control, HIV screening, and even free check-ups. Because the ACA requires that individual policies sold through the marketplaces cover a broad range of “essential health benefits” like maternity care, mental health care, and prescription drug coverage, more people would benefit from these consumer protections in the future.
But under the CARE Act, insurance companies will not have to supply these consumer protections, and the old method of “gender rating” will be re-instituted. In other words, women could end up paying more for premiums because, as we have been told by some republicans, women have more things that could go wrong.
The CARE Act would also allow insurance companies to turn people down for pre-existing conditions unless a person already had a policy which covered the condition.
It does keep the ACA’s ban on lifetime limits on medical benefits, but it also allows insurers to set annual caps on that care. So you might get treatment for the rest of your life, but you will have to pay more for it.
For those who have insurance through an employer, the cost of their share would go up making it a tax hike on the employee. This is a way to get people to settle for skimpier plans as the Act would limit the federal tax exclusion for an employee’s healthcare.
Presently a worker’s insurance premium is covered with pre-tax dollars. Under the Republican plan this would be limited to a 65% pre-tax amount, so the employee would pick up 35%. That would be a tax increase.
There would also be fewer subsidies to help Americans buy health care. The ACA sliding scale of insurance subsidies for those between the poverty level and four times the poverty level, would become a flat subsidy that increases with age and would only be available to people making up to three times the poverty level.
This might be good for those who are relatively healthy, but not so good for those who are sick and poor as the needed coverage could be out of reach.
Basically the new plan is the one Romney pushed during his bid for the presidency, and like it, this plan brings us a long way back to how things used to be and which needed change.
Whether or not you like the ACA, or you keep hearing how "bad" it is, compare what the ACA contains to what the GOP wants, and decide what you would rather have.