NETWORK Evaluates New Healthcare Bill
March 7, 2017
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice released our “10 Commandments of Healthcare,” a set of principles grounded in Christian faith and a concern for the common good. We know that healthcare is a human right that is essential for a dignified life, so each of these commandments seeks to protect that right to healthcare and provide health security for all. Each of these principles form the fabric of a just healthcare system that cares for people living in or near poverty.
NETWORK’s test for any ACA replacement bill is simple: Does the bill protect access to quality, affordable, equitable healthcare for vulnerable communities? After reviewing the House GOP replacement bill, the answer is a resounding no. Instead of providing greater health security, the bill increases costs for older and sicker patients and drastically cuts the Medicaid program, all while providing huge tax cuts to wealthy corporations and individuals. This is not the faithful way forward and must be rejected.
Two House committees will begin “marking up” the health bill tomorrow. Democratic members of the Committees will offer amendments to expand coverage and protect Medicaid during the process but it is not anticipated they will be successful. The bill would then move to the Budget Committee next week then finally to the House floor likely the week of March 20th.
It is imperative that advocates voice opposition to the current form of the bill because silence will be interpreted as satisfaction. Action now will impact the direction of the bill in the House and in the Senate, the body advocates believe is our best chance of stopping a bad bill.
How Does the GOP Bill Stack Up Against the 10 Commandments of Healthcare?
The following is a comparison of the House GOP plan – the American Health Care Act (AHCA) – with the principles outlined in the 10 Commandments of Healthcare.
1. Thou shalt provide affordable insurance and the same benefits to all currently covered under the Affordable Care Act.
FAILED: The AHCA would cause millions of people to lose access to health coverage. Policy changes would particularly harm people who are older, sicker, and less wealthy.
2. Thou shalt continue to allow children under the age of 26 to be covered by their parents’ insurance.
PASSED: The bill maintains the ACA provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ plan through age 26.
3. Thou shalt ensure that insurance premiums and cost sharing are truly affordable to all.
FAILED: This plan would make premiums and cost sharing far less affordable for millions of Americans. It repeals the ACA tax credits that were used by more than 10 million families in 2016, and offers smaller tax credits that do not adjust by income.
4. Thou shalt expand Medicaid to better serve vulnerable people in our nation.
FAILED: While the AHCA does not end the Medicaid expansion immediately, it would freeze enrollment in the year 2020. At that point, states would no longer be able to sign new enrollees up for the program, reversing the unprecedented coverage gains made since the passage of the ACA. Not only does the AHCA end Medicaid expansion, but it threatens the entire Medicaid program with massive cuts.
5. Thou shalt not undercut the structure or undermine the purpose of Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Medicare funding.
FAILED: The AHCA would end Medicaid as we know it in order to cut and shift Medicaid funding to tax breaks for the wealthy. It converts Medicaid to a per-capita cap, which would cap funds and force states to cut eligibility and benefits for the millions of children and families, seniors, and people with disabilities who rely on Medicaid today.
6. Thou shalt create effective mechanisms of accountability for insurance companies and not allow them to have annual or lifetime caps on expenditures.
HALF-FAILED: While the AHCA keeps the ACA ban on annual and lifetime limits, it removes many mechanism of accountability for insurance companies.
7. Thou shalt not allow insurance companies to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions.
HALF-FAILED: The AHCA does not repeal the ACA ban on discriminating people with pre-existing conditions, but it makes it more difficult for people who have failed to maintain continuous coverage to get insurance. This will disproportionately impact people with pre-existing conditions and leave many with higher premiums.
8. Thou shalt not allow insurance companies to discriminate against women, the elderly, and people in poverty.
FAILED: The AHCA would allow insurers to charger older enrollees far more, which could leave the elderly with prohibitively expensive premiums on the individual market. It would also impose harsh penalties on people who fail to maintain continuous health care coverage, which would disproportionately affect people in poverty. People who struggle to get affordable coverage should be assisted, not punished and locked out of the insurance market.
9. Thou shalt provide adequate assistance for people enrolling and using their health coverage.
FAILED: The AHCA does not provide assistance for people enrolling, but actually makes it more expensive for people to enroll if they have gone without insurance for 63 days. This could lock out people who have lost coverage and want to enroll.
10. Thou shalt continue to ensure reasonable revenue is in the federal budget to pay for life-sustaining healthcare for all.
FAILED: The House GOP bill gives a massive $525 billion dollar tax breaks to the very wealthiest and corporations with the richest 400 families receiving a 7 million dollar tax break a year. Meanwhile, there are $200 billion new taxes on working families. The bill has not been officially scored by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office although budget experts believe there will be significantly less revenue generated to assist low income individuals and families.