Is Speaker Ryan’s Healthcare Plan A Better Way?
Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that Republican lawmakers will introduce a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act next week when Congress returns from a week-long recess. He noted that lawmakers are waiting for cost estimates of the bill to return from both the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation.
“It has become increasingly clear that this law is collapsing,” Ryan told reporters at his weekly press meeting. “It will keep getting worse unless we act.”
While Speaker Ryan did not reveal a lot of information about his plan, the bill would most likely resemble his A Better Way plan for healthcare. Some Speaker Ryan’s changes include:
- Replacing subsidies for purchasing coverage through the exchange based on income with a fixed tax credit for each American that would increase with age, regardless of income.
- Expanding the use of health savings accounts
- Capping tax breaks on employer-sponsored premiums, which is also in newly appointed HHS Sectary Tom Price’s plan.
- Allowing the sale of insurance across state lines
- New mechanisms to let small business and individuals pool together
- Further expansion of wellness plans
- Medical liability reform “establish[ing] reasonable limits and ensur[ing] plaintiffs can recover full medical costs”
- Keeping protections for patients with preexisting conditions
- Allowing individuals up to the age of 26 to remain on their parent’s health plan
- Keeping provisions preventing insurers from canceling plans suddenly
- Creating continuous coverage protections that would allow insurers to charge a person more if they lose coverage
- Limiting the open enrollment period
- Giving more control over Medicaid to the States
- Permanently enacting the Weldon Amendment, also known as The Federal Refusal Clause, which allows doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers to not provide certain medical procedures on religious grounds, as well as expanding the Hyde Amendment
- Changes to NIH discretionary funding
- Streamlining the FDA approval process
- Improved use of electronic health records
While the final bill will most certainly be different from these proposals, it is crucial to look at a prominent Republican plan to see what they think healthcare reform should look like. Republicans have enough votes in the House to approve a plan without Democratic support; Senate Republicans will need to reach across the aisle to pass a bill.