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The Search for ‘Replace’ Continues

A key House panel will examine four bills Feb. 2 meant to keep health insurance markets stable ahead of Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This, as the GOP has yet to agree on a plan or timetable to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act following a congressional strategy session in Philadelphia...
January 31, 2017

A key House panel will examine four bills Feb. 2 meant to keep health insurance markets stable ahead of Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This, as the GOP has yet to agree on a plan or timetable to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA) following a congressional strategy session in Philadelphia.

The bills at the hearing will reduce the number of age-rating bands—which prevent insurers from charging older people much more than younger people—from five to three and create a new system for protecting Americans with pre-existing health conditions, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, told Bloomberg BNA on Jan. 26. Energy and Commerce will likely explore how high-risk insurance pools could replace [emphasis added] the ACA’s ban on denying coverage to people with health conditions, he said during the Republican meeting in Philadelphia.

One of the bills will also protect people from premium rate hikes—but only if they don’t allow their insurance coverage to lapse. House Republicans are hoping these changes will allow them to repeal the ACA without disrupting the insurance market. A repeal of the law would push the uninsured population to 50 million by 2026 — nearly double the number expected if the ACA remained intact, according to a December report commissioned by the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals.

READ: CBO Says 18 Million Could Lose Insurance in ACA Repeal


Replacing the ACA’s ban on denying coverage to people with health conditions by instituting high-risk insurance pools could force people with serious medical conditions into plans with much higher premiums. At the same time, Republicans are likely to end subsidies for Americans obtaining insurance in an ACA marketplace and eliminate federal funding for states expanding their Medicaid programs. The upshot could be more uninsured people.

“We’d better be sure that we’re prepared to live with the market we’ve created” with repeal, said Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). “That’s going to be called Trumpcare. Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel, and we’ll be judged in the election less than two years away.”