A group of House Republicans unveiled a 192-page health care plan that fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with “patient-centered reforms” and “free-market solutions.”
“American citizens are suffering from the president’s broken promises under the unaffordable Obamacare law,” says @AustinScottGA08
Lawmakers released the plan Thursday as the GOP-led Congress prepares to attack the Affordable Care Act. Both houses of Congress have already signaled their intentions to repeal Obamacare by a simple majority vote using the reconciliation process—just as the law was passed in 2010.
The new GOP plan, American Health Care Reform Act, was written by Reps. Phil Roe of Tennessee and Austin Scott of Georgia. It has the backing of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus made up of nearly 170 members of the House of Representatives.
Authors of the plan say it’s an “aspirational model” of American health care.
“This is not the perfect bill,” said Roe, who worked as a physician for more than 20 years prior to joining Congress. “We’re open for amendments.”
Highlights of the bill include removing any subsidy assistance, increasing tax benefits, expanding federal funding for state “high-risk pools,” allowing Americans to purchase policies across state lines, reforming medical liability laws, and investing in research for the most common causes of death in the United States.
There is nothing in the legislation that requires health plans to provide coverage for abortion services. Using federal funds to pay for elective abortions is specifically prohibited, except in the case of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is jeopardized.
While introducing the legislation to a small group of reporters, members of the Republican Study Committee slammed the Affordable Care Act.
“Access to a waiting line is not access to health care,” said Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky. He called Obamacare a “spectacular and breathtaking failure.”
“American citizens are suffering from the president’s broken promises under the unaffordable Obamacare law,” Scott added. “That’s why today, I am proud to join my colleagues in offering a plan that fully repeals Obamacare while replacing it with a patient-centered, free-market alternative.”
The American Health Care Reform Act covers four broad areas:
1) Encouraging Competition in the Health Care Market. The Republican Study Committee criticized the Affordable Care Act for not offering competition in health care.
“There’s less competition in the health care system than ever before,” Scott said.
The proposed legislation addresses this issue by allowing Americans to purchase health insurance products across state lines. Small businesses also are permitted to merge together to coordinate better rates.
Scott said adding more insurance carriers into the health care market is paramount to providing more competition.
2) Improving Access for Vulnerable Americans. Federal support for state high-risk pools will increase to $25 billion over 10 years.
Under the bill, premiums would be capped at 200 percent of the state’s premium average. Additionally, those with pre-existing conditions can alternate between health insurance markets, provided they maintain “continuous coverage.”
Roe said veterans would be positively impacted and would receive a Veterans Choice Card, providing more health care options.
3) Supporting Medical Breakthroughs. The bill provides funding for an eight-year, $15 billion Medical Breakthrough Fund at the National Institutes of Health to develop cures for the top five causes of death in the United States: heart disease, cancer, strokes, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. These conditions kill more than 1.5 million people each year.
There’s also a $1 billion prize for the first FDA-approved cure or vaccine for Alzheimer’s.
“Alzheimer’s costs a lot, and I’m not talking about just dollars,” said Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., who noted that finding a vaccine for Alzheimer’s would save the government a significant amount of money.
4) Reforming Medical Liability Laws. The bill identifies several solutions to the medical liability crisis, which increases health care costs and deters physicians from practicing, according to lawmakers.
Solutions include requiring review by an independent panel prior to malpractice discovery and a “voluntary right of removal to federal court so long as there is a federal payer or a federal statute.” Barr said that this reform increases the quality of care by establishing national guidelines for physicians to follow and helps reduce “frivolous lawsuits.”
The legislation wouldn’t replace the current subsidy structure that exists under the Affordable Care Act, which provides aid to those who cannot afford health insurance.
Regardless, Barr claimed the House bill’s provisions are preferable to a subsidy.
“We are doing something better than the status quo before Obamacare and under Obamacare,” Barr said. “We give patients choices.”