Following an intense 72 hours of negotiations, House Republican leadership today delayed votes on their signature ACA replacement bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA).
The chorus of resistance from nurses, providers, patients, consumers, and health systems has slowed consideration of this harmful bill. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office also announced on Thursday that this bill would result in 52 million uninsured by 2026, further bolstering the case against the bill. Please continue encouraging your members to contact their members of congress to express opposition to this bill. Click here to see the alert that we sent out earlier today.
Without the requisite votes to pass in the House as written, the Republican leadership moved Wednesday and Thursday to appease their conservative colleagues by promising to add provisions that would strip ‘Essential Health Benefits’ from existing law.
The current Essential Health Benefits (EHB) requirement imposes a baseline of consumer protections and benefits coverage, including mandated coverage for the following:
- Outpatient care
- Emergency room trips
- In-hospital care
- Pregnancy, maternity and newborn care
- Mental health and substance abuse disorder services
- Prescription drugs
- Preventative services (including vaccines, mammograms, etc.)
With continued defections from the House Freedom Caucus and eroding support from moderate Republicans, it became clear that the bill did not have the votes to pass this evening.
House Republican leadership is considering additional changes to shore up support, and could bring up the AHCA up for a vote in the coming days. With the repeal of Essential Health Benefits and the possibility of additional changes that further erode protections in the individual markets, ANA continues to have significant concerns over the AHCA bill.
On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. The hearings are expected to last four days, with Gorsuch hoping to avoid hot-button issues like access to reproductive rights, campaign finance, and executive powers. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) hopes to have Gorsuch’s nomination voted out of committee by April 3rd and a vote before the full Senate by April 8th (before the two-week Easter recess).
Last week, House Republicans advanced the American Health Care Act (AHCA), their repeal-and-replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act, out of the House Budget Committee following a blistering Congressional Budget Office report of the impact of the legislation. The AHCA bill is expected to be considered by the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, where the Republican majority on the panel is expected to approve the bill and send it to the floor for a full House vote. The full House is expected to vote on the legislation some time Thursday, which is the seventh anniversary of the signing of the current ACA law. ANA opposed the current AHCA legislation in a letter sent to Capitol Hill leaders earlier this month.
House Republican leaders are frantically whipping votes in favor of the bill, but the continued chorus of complaints from the conservative House Freedom Caucus and more moderate members has set the stage for a razor thin margin in the lead up to Thursday’s vote. House Republican leaders are expected to release a ‘Manager’s Amendment,’ which is a series of changes to the legislation that can be made by House leadership following the regular committee process to shore up support for the bill. The expected changes to be released later this week would be to:
1) Allow states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients (appeasing conservative members)
2) And expand health tax credits for seniors (appeasing moderate members).
Though Freedom Caucus members still take umbrage with the current bill for not going far enough and moderates are concerned with the number of Americans that could lose coverage, the changes could be enough to get Republican to the 216 votes needed to pass the bill.
Stay tuned to the Capitol Beat for further updates on health reform and other activity happening on Capitol Hill.
Earlier today, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its assessment (commonly referred to as a ‘score’) of how the House Republican health care plan, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), will impact the healthcare market and it’s cost estimates. The CBO found that the plan, which repeals the Obama era ACA law and is replaced with AHCA, would result in over 24 million individuals being uninsured by the year 2026.
The House Republican plan would make cuts to Medicaid, cutting the deficit by $337 billion over the next decade. The CBO also found that premiums in the individual market will rise by 15%-20% over the current law; the rise in premiums is attributed to the repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate.
The CBO estimates present a political challenge for House Republicans, with the immediate effects of an ACA repeal and an AHCA replacement resulting in 14 million more uninsured individuals by next year. A sizable shift in the uninsured population could translate in to a backlash in the lead up to the 2018 midterm election. The plan would likely also face significant opposition from Republican and Democratic Governors alike.
We’ll continue to closely monitor developments around healthcare reform, and urge you to continue to following Capitol Beat and our RN Action twitter account for the updates.