One of the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act — supported by 87 percent of Americans in a March CNN/ORC poll — barred insurance companies from discriminating against those with preexisting conditions. This bill guts those protections.
Were you born with a heart defect? You’re out of luck. Did you have an illness in your teens that might come back? Tough. Other victims hidden in the fine print include kids in special ed programs, which could face severe cuts in Medicaid funding.
It gets worse. This bill would cut $880 billion over a decade from Medicaid, which provides health care to about 74 million Americans — the poor, the disabled, the elderly — and another $300 billion that now goes to helping those who cannot afford it buy health insurance. (E. J. Dionne, Washington Post, May 5, 2017.)
Slashes insurance subsidies. It would provide $300 billion less over 10 years to help people who do not get insurance through employers and have to buy their own policies. This would hurt lower-income and older people the hardest. For example, a 60-year-old living in Phoenix and earning $40,000 would have to pay an additional $12,370 a year to buy a policy, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Many people who find themselves in this situation would have no choice but to forgo insurance. ...
Guts protections for people with pre-existing conditions. An amendment by Representative Tom MacArthur of New Jersey would allow states to waive the requirement that insurers sell policies to people with prior health problems and not charge them higher rates. The chief executive of Blue Shield of California said the bill “could return us to a time when people who were born with a birth defect or who became sick could not purchase or afford insurance.” Republicans say they will require that states with waivers offer high-risk pools and find other ways to help treat these people. The bill offers $138 billion over 10 years to help states pay for such programs. Experts say this is far too little; Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Foundation estimates it would take at least $25 billion a year.
Makes insurance less comprehensive. The bill would also let states waive a requirement under Obamacare that insurers cover a list of essential services. This means people in some places might not have access to maternity care or cancer treatment. This provision could also hurt people who get insurance through work, because federal regulations allow employers to opt into the rules of any state for the purposes of determining annual and lifetime limits on coverage, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution. (Editorial, New York Times, May 4, 2017.)