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March 2017  Volume 15, Number 3        
 

health benefits

House Votes to Clear Way for Repeal of Obamacare

In a 227-198 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a resolution in January that paves the way for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. President Trump and Republicans, who are working on a replacement plan, say Obamacare was a failure, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi argues it diminished the rate of growth in healthcare costs.

Shortly before President Donald Trump took office, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 227 to 198 to approve a budget resolution that cleared the way for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“This provides Congress with the legislative tools that we need to repeal and replace Obamacare,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said. “This is a critical first step toward delivering relief to Americans who are struggling under this law. In the weeks ahead, several steps will be taken to provide relief. Some steps will be taken by this body. Some steps will be taken by the new administration, including after he’s confirmed as HHS secretary, our own colleague from Georgia, Mr. Price.

“Our goal is a truly patient-centered system, which means more options to choose from, lower costs, and greater control over your coverage. And as we work to get there, we will make sure that there is a stable transition period so that people don’t have the rug pulled out from under them, so that this will be a thoughtful, step-by-step process and we welcome ideas from both sides of the aisle.”

Following the vote, Trump tweeted, “The “Unaffordable” Care Act will soon be history!”

Meanwhile, Trump, Ryan and other Republican leaders faced the task of devising their own health plan to ensure broad health coverage while keeping costs down. After the new plan is developed to replace the ACA, both the House and Senate will need to approve it and a presidential signature will be required.

Obamacare was passed seven years ago to expand coverage and give new protections for people with pre-existing health conditions and other barriers that left them without insurance. It has been widely criticized and plagued by increases in insurance premiums and deductibles. A number of large insurers have left the system.

However, Democratic leaders challenged Ryan’s assertion that the ACA was a failure, noting the rate of growth in healthcare costs has been diminished by the law.

“Republicans talk about they’re going to ‘repeal and replace’ — interesting alliteratively, but not realistic in terms of: for six years they have had a chance to propose an alternative,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “We see nothing. But what we have seen is their ‘cut and run.’ They want to cut benefits, and run.”

A Congressional Budget Office report found repealing Obamacare would cost 18 million people their insurance in the first year, and could increase the number of uninsured Americans by 32 million in a decade.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” program that the “Obamacare Replacement Act” would get rid of some of the mandates for health insurance coverage with the goal of reducing the cost of insurance. He also said his proposal would overhaul healthcare regulations to permit small businesses to band together to buy insurance.

“The replacement bill that we put together, our goal is to insure the most amount of people, give access to the most amount of people, at least the amount of cost,” Paul said. “One of the key reforms that we will do is, we’re going to legalize the sale of inexpensive insurance. That means getting rid of the Obamacare mandates on what you can buy. We are going to help people save through health savings accounts, as well as a tax credit.”

Under the proposal, the bargaining power created by the state and federal exchanges would be replaced with a provision allowing individuals and small businesses to create their own markets.

“There’s no reason why (a business owner) with four employees shouldn’t be able to join with hundreds and hundreds of other businesses that are small to become a large entity to get leverage to bring your prices down,” Paul said.

Ryan, R-Wis., said Republicans would work on a strategy to replace Obamacare at a joint House-Senate GOP retreat the week after President Trump took office.

Poll Finds Health Care Among American’s Top Issues

Meanwhile, a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found healthcare is among the top issues that Americans want President Trump and Congress to address. When asked about a series of healthcare priorities, repealing the ACA fell behind other healthcare priorities including lowering the amount individuals pay for medical care, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and dealing with the prescription painkiller addiction epidemic.

When presented with two general approaches to the future of healthcare, 62 percent of Americans prefer “guaranteeing a certain level of health coverage and financial help for seniors and lower-income Americans, even if it means more federal health spending and a larger role for the federal government,” while 31 percent prefer the approach of “limiting federal health spending, decreasing the federal government’s role, and giving state governments and individuals more control over health insurance, even if this means some seniors and lower-income Americans would get less financial help than they do today.”

The survey found the public is divided on what they would like lawmakers to do when it comes to Obamacare. Forty-nine percent think Congress should vote to repeal the law, compared to 47 percent who say they should not vote to repeal it. Of those who want to see Congress vote to repeal the law, a larger share say they want lawmakers to wait to vote to repeal the law until the details of a replacement plan have been announced (28 percent) than say Congress should vote to repeal the law immediately and work out the details of a replacement plan later (20 percent).

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In this issue:

This Just In...

House Votes to Clear Way for Repeal of Obamacare

How Wellness Programs Improve the Bottom Line

Trends in Workplace Benefits in 2017

Congress Reexamines Repeal of Cadillac Tax

 

 


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