Throughout Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, promises were made and a clear line was drawn in the sand indicating that if he was elected the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be repealed and replaced. In March the GOP took its first swing during Trump’s presidency at replacing the ACA with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Health care experts on both conservative and liberal sides of the political spectrum described this attempt at reform as a failure right out of the gate due its inability to lower deductibles, offer affordable and comprehensive coverage to the middle class and the potential changes it could bring to Medicaid.
On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan revealed an amendment to the AHCA that would establish a federal risk sharing program for insurers, an idea that has received support from both moderate and conservative Republicans.
The revised act would aim to lower premiums and increase the total number of insurers who offer plans, which Republicans in turn hope would create a competitive marketplace with more choices for consumers. Currently, many consumers are left with limited choices in the marketplace after a recent exodus by many carriers.
According to Ryan, the amendment maintains the ACA mandate to provide coverage to those with pre-existing conditions while also providing states with more options. The “high-risk sharing” pool would be used to reimburse insurers for covering patients with expensive conditions, which Republicans hope would in turn lead to lower premiums across the board. The pool would be administered by the federal government for three years before being handed over to the state level.
Freedom Caucus members, Republicans of the most conservative and libertarian nature, were not convinced that the initial AHCA effectively abolished some of the more troublesome elements of the ACA. With Freedom Caucus members essentially voting against their party, it was decided that the AHCA would be withdrawn and no vote would take place.
It will be interesting to see how those members respond to this latest proposal. Ryan said he believes the gap between his party’s two sides is narrowing, but that will remain speculation until the bill is actually voted on, let alone passed.
After the AHCA vote was initially pulled, Ryan stated that the country is, “going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,” putting doubt in the minds of all citizens in regards to the GOP’s ability to craft a successful (and popular) replacement. Now, it’s looking like Republicans may be able to stop their infighting long enough to turn one of Trump’s early failures into a potential win.
By Jake Hoogendoorn, Marketing Coordinator