GOP focus on lowering health premiums may undermine benefits

Sunday, 28 May, 2017

Opening up the health insurance markets across state lines to allow more marketplace competition and people being protected from being gouged or not even having coverage at all for pre-existing conditions was a campaign promise that is not being fulfilled by the AHCA. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said that 23 million more uninsured people is "unacceptable". At the same time, the report says 23 million fewer Americans will be insured. That dollar figure was a considerable change from the original version of the bill that CBO said would have saved $337 billion, but lawmakers chose to spend back some of those savings on help for those likely to be cut off from insurance.

But Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, called the bill "dangerous, deadly and deeply flawed".

"I don't put the same reliance on everything they say", MacArthur said. That is the bill approved and now evaluated by CBO.

"I've been very concerned about the CBO numbers, what the projections are and actually what things turn out to be", said Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute, a think tank that advocates for free-market policies. The fact that Republicans want to enact a policy that will strip health care coverage from millions of people is upsetting, but it's not exactly new information.

The CBO reports that the bill could destabilize individual insurance markets in some states, leaving unhealthy Americans unable to buy insurance. It did not guess which states might do that, but the report says that one-sixth of the population could be subject to that instability.

States could also get waivers that would allow insurers to charge more for people with pre-existing conditions, a practice banned under the ACA. By choosing the former, people who are healthier than average would be able to purchase nongroup insurance with relatively low premiums, according to the agencies. In 2026, an estimated 51 million people under age 65 would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under the PPACA. Patients' premiums would be determined by everything from how old they are to where they live, whether they have a preexisting medical condition, and how their individual states decide to handle the new law. In 2010, the CBO projected that about 24 million would be on the Obamacare exchanges by 2017.

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MacArthur said shortly after the report's release that he didn't trust the analysis because the CBO's actuaries are "not prophets".

Though one-sixth of the USA population may not seem like a lot, it equates to about 53.5 million Americans-and some public policy experts are saying that a single state's decision to adopt a waiver could have effects across state lines, weakening protections for people across every state.

But the reaction was not completely partisan. Sen.

Majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) yesterday expressed doubt about his ability to get the 50 votes he needs from the 52 Senate Republicans, prompting more doubts among colleagues, according to the website. The House-passed bill, he said, "does not".

Carrying signs and chanting in opposition to the AHCA, Representatives from Planned Parenthood Advocates of OH, the Human Rights Campaign, the Universal Health Care Action Network and about two dozen speakers and protesters gathered outside the Scripps Building on Walnut downtown where Portman has an office.