Speaker Paul Ryan and the House GOP are on a tear to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), without being any closer to agreement on a replacement plan. The House will likely introduce a budget reconciliation bill to effectively repeal the ACA in the next two weeks… with no immediate replacement. Ryan and his troops hope to have a replacement plan by April, but Max Richtman, the President of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare is skeptical:
“Given the potential political risk of displacing 20 million Americans who now have health coverage through the ACA, the legislative battle will probably take longer than they think.”
Republicans meeting in Philadelphia this week to strategize about replacements for the Affordable Care Act were unable to come to a consensus. The disarray in the GOP caucus made for an alarming headline in this morning’s Los Angeles Times: Republicans divided over whether millions of Americans should lose government-subsidized health coverage.
In the meantime, if Congress repeals the ACA soon but blows past April struggling to replace it, says Richtman, that could destabilize the health insurance market and endanger ACA policyholders’ coverage.
“If key parts of the ACA are repealed now, and insurance companies think the situation is too unpredictable, you have an immediate de facto loss of coverage for more than 20 million Americans.”
The nearly 60 million seniors and disabled on Medicare are also at risk of losing benefits that the ACA mandated, including annual wellness visits and preventative screenings with no out of pocket costs, and will have to pay an average $1,000 per year more for prescription drugs unless those parts of Obamacare are retained. Of course, at this point no one knows which of the ACA’s benefits will stay or be shredded, including House Republicans.
In a related development, the Washington Post reports the White House is pulling ads for ACA enrollments in advance of the 2017 enrollment deadline.