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March 9, 2017 – The ‘American Health Care Act’ perpetuates the basic structure of the Affordable Care Act, including the subsidization of the private health insurance industry, while cutting benefits to the poor and middle class, and giving hundreds of billions in tax breaks to the rich
Physicians for a National Health Program decries the recently released Republican Obamacare replacement bill, the “American Health Care Act” (AHCA). That plan would constitute a major backward step in health policy, compounding the problems of uninsurance and underinsurance while handing over hundreds of billions of dollars to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.
Proposed as a replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the AHCA would maintain its basic structure. The bill would:
• Continue to channel billions of taxpayer dollars through wasteful private insurers;
• Sharply reduce the ACA’s subsidies (or “tax credits”) available to lower-income persons, particularly older adults, to purchase coverage;
• End the ACA’s cost-sharing subsidies for copayments and deductibles, increasing the cost of care for those with chronic medical conditions;
• Replace the ACA’s “individual mandate” penalty on the uninsured with a 30 percent surcharge on insurance premiums for those who experienced a lapse in insurance coverage;
• Slash federal funding for the Medicaid expansion beginning in 2020, and move towards a “per capita” cap on Medicaid spending that would squeeze state Medicaid budgets and push millions of enrollees out of the program;
• Increase the tax-favored status of Health Savings Accounts, which mostly benefit people in high income brackets;
• Reduce taxes on pharmaceutical, medical device and health insurance companies;
• Offer tax reductions totaling $274.6 billion over 10 years to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.
These and other provisions would take the nation in the wrong direction. Even with the ACA in place, 29 million remained uninsured in 2015; the ACHA would only push that number higher. And today, even many Americans with coverage face bankrupting medical bills for copayments, deductibles and uncovered services. By lowering the standards of private insurance plans and ending cost sharing subsidies, the ACHA would only intensify the problem of “underinsurance.”
The ACHA would replace the ACA with a worse, more regressive version of the original bill. This is not what Americans want or need. PNHP instead urges Congress to replace the ACA with a single-payer national health care program. Unlike the ACA or the ACHA, single-payer, Medicare for All reform could effectively control costs while creating a right to high-quality healthcare for everyone in America.
Physicians for a National Health Program (www.pnhp.org) is a nonprofit research and education organization of more than 20,000 doctors who support a single-payer national health program. It was founded in 1986. www.pnhp.org