The American Health Care Act was passed by the House Budget Committee on Mar. 16, 2017. This bill was later introduced into the House of Representatives on Mar. 20, and will be looked over by the House Rules Committee on Mar. 22.
House Republicans, led by Speaker Paul Ryan, engineered the bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
This puts the act in a precarious spot. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) has major differences from its predecessor. Such differences can radically shift the current healthcare system and thus affect millions of Americans across the country. This is why it is important to compare the American Health Care Act with the Affordable Care Act, and to truly find out if the future of health is either doomed, or in good hands.
The first big change in the AHCA is its policy on subsidies. A subsidy is a grant of money that one gets back from the government, in this case for aid to one’s medical bills. The ACA (Affordable Care Act) originally had subsidies based entirely on the income of the person. In the AHCA, however, this system is switched to an age based rate. Additionally, the ACA provided tax credits for any out of pocket expenses made by the individual, while the AHCA completely revokes that staple.
This change has some drastic repercussions. First off, the removal of the income based subsidies would make paying for healthcare an even more arduous task for poor people. The same goes with the tax credits, as poorer individuals would not have as much out of pocket money to spend on ludicrously high medical costs. Secondly, the age based levelling also hurts younger people. Since the older you get, the more subsidies you earn, people applying for health insurance for the first time at a young age would be gimped from the start, especially if they do not have a high paying job.
Another major change in the AHCA is with Medicaid. The ACA provided federal funds to anyone who qualified within states with expanded Medicaid, which reached to above 138 percent of the poverty level, which also is $12,060 a year for individuals and $41,320 for a family of 8. The AHCA, however, caps federal funds to states with Medicaid per capita, and reduces funds to states with expanded Medicaid.
These major cuts are incredibly damaging to those in need of Medicaid. While the 138 percent may seem quite extreme, when you do the numbers, it turns out to be quite reasonable. A single person at max would be on Medicaid if their income was $28,702.80, which is still quite a low yearly income that would struggle with paying for insurance and for medical bills.
Looking at these major changes and shifts in the dynamic of American health care that would be caused by the American Health Care Act, it seems to only be hurting poor individuals and restrict them from getting the health care they need. This is best shown in the estimate by the Brookings Institution, which states that over ten years, if left untouched, the current bill would cause 15 million Americans to lose their health insurance.
This all stacks up to show that the current state of the American Health Care Act would not stack up for today’s needs in health. The bill is so broken, that many House Republicans that supposedly would support this bill oppose it vehemently. It really makes you wonder if replacing the Affordable Care Act is a good idea or not.
Now, the bill could be modified later down the line, which could bring in the needed adjustments to accommodate this. Not only that, but the bill actually saves the federal government a good chunk of money, leaving that for other programs to get necessary funding.
However, with the millions of American lives put at financial and physical risk by this bill, saving a good chunk of money should not be our government’s priority when changing our healthcare system.
Author: Liam Sweeney
Liam Sweeney is a Junior at Metea and a Spotlight writer for the school magazine. He is a political independent, as he refuses to align with any of the mainstream political parties. Music dominates Liam’s life as he is a lover of all rock music, with his favorite genres being garage rock and punk rock. Liam also plays guitar, and wishes to be in his own band in the near future.