Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has taken some time to clarify some vital information on the new American Health Care Act, or AHCA, bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. His clarifications come on the heels of a CBO report that suggests 24 million citizens would lose their health insurance if the new bill passes.
According to , an estimated 24 million people would lose health insurance by 2026. The report claims the uninsured rate would be higher than it was before the ACA.
“Not only would the absolute number of uninsured people increase, the share of the population without coverage would be higher than it was before the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010; nearly 1-in-5 people under age 65 would not have health insurance by 2026, according to CBO estimates (people 65 and older generally qualify for Medicare).”
The report blames this massive drop in covered citizens on the proposed changes to the current Medicaid program and the repeal of the individual mandate implemented by Obamacare that requires everyone to have insurance and penalizes those who refuse coverage. From the changes to Medicaid alone, the CBO report suggests that nearly 14 million people would lose coverage. Another seven million are expected to drop their coverage due to the absence of an individual mandate. The remaining roughly three million would lose coverage due to changes in subsidies and other miscellaneous reasons.
The report also touches on increases in insurance premiums, which are another main focus for many people wanting to get away from the grasp of Obamacare.
Per the report, insurance premiums are expected to fluctuate over time. They will go up and down, mostly depending on the amount of people who opt for coverage at any given point. This is only expected in the private sector, though, not within public or employer-backed programs.
The release of the report surely sent many people into a frenzy, mainly the media. A lot of questions have risen from the results, as well as the reasons for them, which the CBO report tries to explain.
Speaker Ryan has owned up to every single detail since the beginning of the AHCA bill. He hasn’t backed down from criticism, but instead chose to be more direct and clear in giving people a better understanding of what the bill entails and how we can make it work as a whole. Since the report, he has also taken a stand to counter the expected outcomes that are outlined in the document.
Last Sunday, Ryan met with CBS’s John Dickerson for an interview to speak on the behalf of the AHCA bill and the progress Congress has made so far. In the interview, Dickerson asked Ryan exactly how many people he thought would lose coverage if the bill passes. Ryan responded:
“It’s up to the people… are we providing a system where people have access to health insurance if they choose to do so? And the answer is yes. But are we going to have some nice looking spreadsheet that says we, the government of the American—of the United States are going to make people buy something and, therefore, they’re all going to buy it? No. That’s the fatal conceit of Obamacare in the first place.”
He goes on to to say that it is not the government’s job to force anything upon American citizens. “It is our job to have a system where people can get universal access to affordable coverage if they choose to do so or not. That’s what we’re going to be accomplishing,” he said.
Ryan is basically saying that if citizens don’t want health coverage, or cannot pay for it at a certain point, they should not be punished for opting out, which is essentially what Obamacare does.
Through Obamacare, anyone who does not have health coverage – at any point throughout the year – will be penalized for the lack of coverage when it comes time to file taxes. for not having health insurance. Many of those people couldn’t afford insurance, much less the penalty for not having it.
The way Obamacare is set up, individuals and families can opt in to their preferred plan through the ACA marketplace. For those below the poverty line, in most cases, there are programs that allow assistance to afford insurance, which is where much of the increase in Medicaid patients comes from. Again, this happens in most cases. For many others, they fall into the abyss between the two, known as the ‘I can’t afford a marketplace plan, but I’m also not poor enough to get assistance’ gap. That is just one of the many issues with Obamacare. These people are still penalized for not having the insurance when they can’t even qualify for it!
The AHCA gets rid of the mandate, and the problems that come along with it. If an individual or a family cannot afford coverage, they will receive help through programs like Medicaid. Medicaid will be able to help more people who are truly struggling because many will opt out of the program since they will no longer be penalized if they don’t have it.
If they do choose to have health coverage, the AHCA has a system in place to give tax credits to those citizens. Basically, if you purchase coverage through the AHCA, you will receive a credit to cover some of the costs. So no punishment for not having insurance, but there will be a reward if you do. This is one way the AHCA works to encourage more citizens to opt in, according to Ryan.
Many will lose coverage, as the CBO report suggests, but it will not be for the reasons it claims. The AHCA promises to help those in need, but refuses to punish those who feel they don’t need the coverage. With the implementation of the AHCA bill, there will be no more government control over citizens’ health.