Hearings Begin for American Health Care Act as Opposition Grows
Opposition is mounting against the recent American Health Care Act, which Republicans hope will be their long-awaited repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. The plan, backed by President Donald Trump, unsurprisingly faced criticism from Democrats, but top national medical groups and conservatives also challenged the bill today.
Large organizations like the American Medical Association (AMA) spoke out against changes to Medicaid, a government program that supplies healthcare coverage for low-income Americans, in a letter to lawmakers in Washington D.C. They said that replacing the income-based subsidies of the ACA with age-based tax credits would make coverage more expensive for Americans – if not price them out of the market completely. AARP also criticized the plan.
Also, today, the official debate over the bill began with two House committees – The House Ways and Means Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee – meet to begin the long process of creating the legislation. Democrats wanted the hearings to be delayed to allow everyone more time to read and consider the proposal.
These committees must vote on the bill before it moves to the entire House of Representatives for a vote. Once the House approves it, it moves across the Capital Building to the Senate who must also approve the bill. Finally, it goes to the President’s to be signed into law. There is still a long time to go before any of this is finalized.
Four Republican Senators — Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia), Cory Gardner (Colorado), and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) – have broke rank before the final bill was announced with a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stating they thought an earlier draft “does not provide stability and certainty for individuals and families in Medicaid expansion programs or the necessary flexibility for states.”
While Republicans control both houses of Congress, their lead in the Senate is smaller than their lead in the House, so any division could not bode well for the bill.
We are still waiting on a critical report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that will outline what the bill could actually accomplish in terms of how many people it will insure or uninsure and how much it will cost the taxpayers. This is crucial information that lawmakers need to make decisions, and will really provide more detail into what this bill means for the future.
Photo – Copyright: searagen / 123RF Stock Photo