House Republicans on Monday unveiled their long-awaited replacement for the Affordable Care Act, setting in motion a contentious new phase in the overhaul of healthcare coverage in America.
The 123-page American Healthcare Act (AHCA), which lawmakers plan to begin moving through the legislative process as early as Wednesday, marks a vast departure from former President Barack Obama‘s signature healthcare legislation and risks eliminating health insurance options for millions of Americans while attempting to right the faults of Obamacare.
Among its top-level changes, the AHCA scraps the controversial fines Obamacare imposed on Americans who failed to obtain health insurance. Instead, it institutes a tax credit-based system that increases the amount of money Americans receive to purchase health insurance based on age. The tax credits range from $2,000 to $14,000 for families. High-income Americans are exempt from receiving the tax credits.
The legislation does not entirely remove penalties for Americans who forego health insurance, however; anyone without health coverage for more than 63 days will see a 30-percent price hike on their premiums.
Under GOP bill, anyone who goes w/o health coverage for two months or more would face a 30% surcharge on premiums for a year. pic.twitter.com/krmLYLTOTn— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) March 6, 2017
The AHCA also stands to drastically change the Medicaid and Medicare systems. While the AHCA would continue Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid—a federal-state system that covers some 10 million children, low-income Americans, elderly Americans, and Americans with disabilities in 31 states—through 2020, it would require states to cover the cost of additional enrollees in subsequent years. Medicare, which provides healthcare coverage for Americans over 65 through federal and state funds, would later limit federal funding based on each state’s cost and enrollment numbers.
The bill also eliminates a cap on write-offs for company employees who receive salaries that exceed $500,000.
Women stand to bear a heavy burden under the Republican plan, which would defund Planned Parenthood by preventing the healthcare nonprofit from receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in funds from Medicaid reimbursements. The bill also aims to prevent health insurance companies from providing coverage for abortions.
Further, the plan is expected to cover fewer than the 20 million people who were able to obtain health insurance under Obamacare.
Republicans do not yet know how much the AHCA will cost.
Despite House Majority Leader Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) claiming that the AHCA would “drive down costs, encourage competition, and give every American access to quality, affordable health insurance,” even Republican lawmakers have balked at the legislation.
“While we support efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and make structural reforms to the Medicaid program,” the letter reads, “we are concerned that the February 10th draft proposal from the House of Representatives does not provide stability and certainty for individuals and families in Medicaid expansion programs or the necessary flexibility for states.”
Read the full American Healthcare Act below: