New American Health Care Act Affects Persons Dependent on Medicaid

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New American Health Care Act Affects Persons Dependent on Medicaid
Bernadine Racoma

Although many people were against ObamaCare, which continues to be a controversial issue, the new American Health Care Act (AHCA) is fast becoming more controversial even before it’s signed into law. Democrats are rushing to finish it, have it approved by Congress, and push it past the Senate so that President Trump can finally put his signature on it.

Republicans say that the American Health Care Act, the replacement for ObamaCare, will allow all Americans enrolled in the past administration’s health insurance program to have access to health insurance. However, this early, there are already arguments and analyses that predict that many insured individuals will be facing a loss of insurance coverage. Gary Cohn, the White House Chief Economic Adviser contradicted reports about the loss of health care of many Americans. Although he claims that the new healthcare act will give Americans access to health insurance, he also said that about 20 million people who bought insurance under ObamaCare would be in a middle group category during the transition period. The actual numbers will be known when the nonpartisan CBO or the Congressional Budget Office releases its report by Monday, March 13.

Democrats in Congress are strongly opposing the AHCA. They claim that the Republicans want the proposed act to leave the House before the CBO report is submitted and made public. The report is said to have a negative impact on the healthcare act.

At the moment, the AHCA received favorable votes from two committees, but it still needs a full House vote next week (week of March 20) for it to reach the Senate, where it must have the favorable vote from 51 of the 52 Senate Republicans.

Affordable Care Act vs. American Health Care Act

Under the ACA or ObamaCare, millions of Americans were required to have health insurance, which effectively lowered the number of the uninsured in America. But since its inception in 2010 and full implementation in 2014, the insured struggled due to the tapering number of options for health insurance holders and the rise in premium costs.

The replacement health care act will have a great impact on people living in the states that provide Medicaid subsidies. Democrats focused their attention on the expansion of Medicaid, the penalties for people without health insurance and the insurance subsidies under ObamaCare. The number of people affected will be around 68 million low-income members of society, which include the disabled, elderly, pregnant women and children. Instead of the state receiving a specific share for Medicaid depending on its wealth and the number of constituents a state supports which is variable, the new act proposes to provide each state with a fixed amount per beneficiary.

Likely scenarios

The expected advent of AHCA, which is dubbed Trumpcare, has mobilized plenty of people dealing with Medicaid, including patient advocates, hospital industry, insurers, as well as Republican and Democrat governors.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) former administrator Tom Scully (under former President George Bush) said that Medicaid’s complexity is 50 times more than the insurance market place under ObamaCare.

President and CEO of Molina Healthcare, an insurer to about 3.5 million people under Medicaid in Puerto Rico and 12 states in the U.S., predicts that many Americans who currently have health care will lose their coverage. Medicare coverage is expansive. Even if the 11 million Americans who bought insurance when ObamaCare increased the coverage to people whose incomes were up to 138% of the poverty range at the federal level, Medicare still covered 57 million individuals.

It will be more difficult to provide care for the elderly, the number of which increases every year. With the reduced government subsidy for the state, they will be spending more. About two-thirds of elderly Americans in nursing homes are covered by Medicaid, and with the reduced subsidies, they will be more vulnerable as their care becomes more expensive as they age. It will also be more difficult to find and pay for good caregivers.

The insured cannot escape the ramifications of the new healthcare act as charges for insurance based on age will also change. Insurance companies were allowed to charge older people up to three times more compared to younger people under ObamaCare.  Under the new act, insurers can charge older people up to five times more. Insurance costs under the new act will also be higher on cities where the cost of living is equally higher. The projected increase in health insurance rate for the elderly is likely to cause 10 million Americans to lose their health insurance coverage, according to an analysis done by S&P Global.

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