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News & Press: Public Heath News

House passes legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act

Friday, May 5, 2017  
Posted by: American Public Health Association
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House passes legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act

On May 4, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amended version of the American Health Care Act by a narrow vote of 217-213. Twenty Republicans joined all of the Democrats in opposing the bill. The bill would repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act.

While Republicans brought the revised bill to the House floor without a score or cost and impact estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget office, CBO did review the original bill in March and estimated that under that proposal, 24 million individuals would lose their health insurance coverage by 2026. Additionally, the underlying bill would end the Medicaid expansion and cut $839 billion from the Medicaid program over the next decade. In late March, leaders pulled the original American Health Care Act from the House floor before holding a vote on the legislation due to the House Freedom Caucus opposing the measure because it did not fully repeal the ACA and a number of moderate Republicans expressed concerns regarding the bill’s significant cuts to the Medicaid program and its reductions to insurance premium subsidies created under the ACA.

The latest version of the bill includes an amendment by Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., that would allow states to opt out of requiring health plans to cover the 10 essential health benefits such as maternity care, mental health and substance abuse disorder services and prescription drug coverage. It would also allow insurers to charge significantly higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions and possibly allow insurers to charge older adults even higher premiums. A second amendment included in the underlying bill by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., would provide an additional $8 billion over five years to the bill’s Patient and State Stability Fund, presumably to help offset increased premiums for individuals with pre-existing conditions, though the bill language does not directly earmark the money to premium support. Under the bill, individuals with pre-existing conditions could see drastically higher premiums, leaving millions in the individual and small group market with no protections from insurer discrimination. Upton had earlier announced his opposition to the AHCA, but changed his position once his amendment was accepted. APHA sent a letter to all members of the House of Representatives urging them to oppose the bill. APHA also issued a statement condemning the House vote and urging the Senate to reject the measure.

We would like to thank the many APHA and Affiliate advocates who have contacted their members of Congress during this process. We need you now more than ever as we work to stop this bad bill in its tracks as it heads to the U.S. Senate for further consideration. We strongly encourage APHA members and Affiliates to find out how your Representative voted and to thank him or her if he or she opposed the bill or to express your disappointment if he or she voted in favor of this flawed legislation. You can call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be transferred to your representative’s office.

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