Just days after the Trump Administration announced its refusal to defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in court against a frivolous challenge from twenty Republican states, a group of conservative Republicans led by Rick Santorum, a former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, announced a new proposal to repeal the law in Congress.
The Health Policy Consensus Group’s proposal has gained support from President Trump, a number of Republican Senators and corporate stakeholders. The group is trying to get Republican lawmakers to renew efforts to take away millions of people’s health care in Congress even though similar proposals have failed time and time again.
This new proposal has the same devastating impact as past bills:
- It would repeal ACA’s Medicaid expansion provision, taking health care away from 12 million low-income adults in 31 states, taking revenue away from providers and hospitals and blowing huge holes in state budgets that could then force cuts in other programs.
- In total, the proposal would take coverage from about 21 million peoplebased on estimates from the similar Graham-Cassidy bill that failed last year by repealing Medicaid and the subsidies and tax credits to help people buy coverage on ACA exchanges.
- It would take away protections that stop insurance companies from charging people with pre-existing conditions more for coverage or denying them care and would allow insurers to opt-out of covering essential health benefits like maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health, etc.
- It would allow insurance companies to go back to charging older people more than younger people for coverage and would allow lifetime caps and annual limits on benefits.
- The proposal continues to increase out of pocket costs by driving instability and uncertainty in the insurance market. Along with President Trump’s administrative and executive actions to sabotage and the ACA cuts to pay for the new tax law, continued attacks on health care have already raised premiums by double digits for many families.
Rather than guaranteed funding for Medicaid and ACA, this proposal forces states to start over again with block grants that won’t keep up with the cost of health care and leaves states holding the bag for rising numbers of uninsured people, cuts in services and struggling providers. States could no longer get additional federal funding to help them meet their health care needs under a block grant system.
Like past repeal proposals, this one also gives rich people a big tax break by doubling Health Savings Account (HSA) contribution limits that help wealthier families with a bigger tax deduction. This break is on top of the $1.5 trillion in tax breaks that has already gone to the rich, insurance and prescription drug companies thanks to President Trump’s new tax law.