On Thursday May 4, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a piece of legislation intended to replace the Affordable Care Act. The Society opposed the legislation which would make coverage more expensive – if not out of reach – for poor and sick Americans.
The AHCA does not meet the Society’s core health reform principles to guarantee health insurance coverage with no lifetime or annual caps or pre-existing condition exclusions; provide an option for young adults to remain on their parent’s insurance until age 26; protect against unreasonable out-of-pocket costs; and ensure access to preventive health services and women’s reproductive healthcare.
The AHCA would impact the most vulnerable by granting states the right to determine which essential health benefits must be covered by insurers in their state, ultimately stripping away protections for people with pre-existing conditions and allowing insurers to charge them substantially more, effectively denying coverage due to high costs.
The additional $8 billion included in the AHCA to set up high-risk pools to protect people with pre-existing conditions will not be nearly enough to cover enrollees in the individual market who have a pre-existing condition.
Now that the AHCA has been approved by the House, it will go to the Senate for consideration. It is not clear, however, if the legislation will comply with Senate rules that block consideration if it would significantly increase the federal deficit beyond a ten-year term or is an “extraneous matter” as set forth in the Budget Act. The Society will continue to advocate for its core principles and encourages others to contact their Senators to make their voices heard.