By Colin O’Neill
Unpacking the GOP’s replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act is a lesson in what some of the best parts of Obama’s landmark healthcare legislation accomplished — unfortunately because those parts are being repealed. There are no added standards or guarantees of healthcare coverage for patients, this proposal amounts to a windfall for insurance companies and CEOs. The biggest losses will be felt by the sick, elderly, working poor, and rural communities as health insurance once again becomes unattainable for struggling Americans.
So here are 10 things you need to know:
- Planned Parenthood funding is eliminated. Why? The Hyde Amendment already blocks federal funds from being used to pay for abortions. So again, why? More than half of Planned Parenthood’s health centers are in underserved and rural areas – areas where community health centers will not be able to handle higher volume due to the loss of vital Planned Parenthood services like anemia, cholesterol and diabetes screenings, physical exams, flu and tetanus vaccines, and sexual and reproductive health services. In 20% of counties with a Planned Parenthood health center, there is no healthcare alternative for patients using public welfare dollars. In 68% of counties with a Planned Parenthood health center, more than half of all low-income patients are served.
- This plan facilitates wealth redistribution from the working poor and middle class families to the wealthiest Americans. Remuneration over $500,000 may be deducted as ordinary and necessary business expenses under the new plan. To put it in layman’s terms, insurance companies can deduct the entirety of employee incomes over $500,000 from their tax bills — meaning profits go untaxed and directly into the pockets of insurance company execs. [ACA rule repeal]
- Penalties owed by uninsured Americans to the government under Obamacare could have left you with a bill between $695 and $2085. With the GOP plan, those penalties would instead be paid to insurance companies for noncontinuous coverage. To put that in perspective — if you go uninsured for more than 63 days you could be stuck paying premiums that are 30% higher for 12 months. The new average penalty over a 12 month period could fall between $1155 for individuals and $2998 for families. Better not change jobs or lose your insurance folks! [ACA rule repeal]
- Increases the tax exempt limits on Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions from $3400 for individuals and $6750 for families to $6550 and $13100. Lowers penalties for non-health related expenses from 20% to 10%. At the end of the day, an HSA means nothing if you can’t afford to contribute to one. [ACA rule repeal]
- Replacement is being fast-tracked without a cost estimate from Congressional Budget Office (CBO), though Republicans are insistent they will have an estimate before voting. Maybe we should have an estimate followed by lot more discussion before voting… no?
- Insurance subsidies are no longer tied to income (400% of poverty under Obamacare), but to age and do not vary based on location. Subsidies would now be offered in the form of tax credits with $2000 being claimable by an adult in their 20’s, increasing by $500 per decade until an individual could claim $4000 in their 60s. If you are in a low income bracket you stand to be hurt severely. So if an HSA was unrealistic before you lost your healthcare subsidy, good luck saving now that you have a higher monthly premium too. [ACA rule repeal]
- Insurance companies are allowed to charge 5 times as much for older adults. Didn’t we just prevent auto insurance from doing this in Maine? [ACA rule repeal]
- Lowers Medicare taxes for high-income earners. If you support scrapping the cap on Social Security taxes, well this is like doing the opposite, but with Medicare. [ACA rule repeal]
- The official Republican replacement plan is not actually called “The World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017” — somehow the most reassuring piece of information I’ve learned in my reading. It is officially titled the “American Health Care Act”…
- The plan will roll back Medicaid expansion in the 31 states it has passed in, coupled with an effort to remove “able-bodied” individuals from expanded Medicaid rolls regardless of income. [ACA rule repeal]
- Dishonorable Mention Bonus: Mental health and addiction treatment would no longer be covered for Medicaid enrollees. For states like Maine and New Hampshire with devastating and growing opiate addiction this makes for a significant step in the wrong direction.
CALL TO ACTION: take 10 minutes to be the change you want to see from your own home!
You finished reading the list, it’s missing something. There are too many “things to know” about the GOP’s American Health Care Act. Which is why I need you to comment beneath this post with what you think we should have included on this list!
And finally, you need to call Bruce Poliquin and Susan Collins — lay out your problems with the replacement plan. If this plan is going to be fast-tracked we have a short amount of time to let our GOP representatives to Congress know the crucial parts of the ACA that they need to protect.
Susan Collins’ Lewiston Office – 784 6969
Bruce Poliquin’s Lewiston Office – 784 0768
This blog entry is written by Colin O’Neill. Colin is a lifelong resident of Oxford County, 2012 graduate of USM, with a background in small business management and grassroots organizing. Progressive politics and a passion for rural organizing led to an 8 month stint working for Bernie 2016 in NH, ME, and PA. Colin is a representative to the Democratic State Committee for Oxford County, and serves as the National Committeeman for Maine Young Democrats. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.