On Monday, March 6th, the House GOP released its repeal alternative entitled American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA) to replace the current law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. On the following Monday, March 13th, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a cost estimate report of the American Health Care Act. The report outlined the potential economic outcomes of the AHCA that would repeal and amend any provisions of the ACA. It estimated that by enacting the legislation over a ten year period, it would reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion and eliminate the individual and employer mandate penalties. However by 2018, it is estimated that 14 million people would be uninsured and that number would continue to rise to 24 million uninsured by 2026. The CBO estimated that the marketplace would be unstable, there would be an increase in average premiums, and major changes to Medicaid. Additionally, the older population would be detrimentally impacted. For those individuals 64 years or older with an annual income of $26,500, they would pay a net premium of $14,600, compared to only $1,700 under the current ACA law. On the flip side, however, healthy 21 year old individuals would pay a net premium of $1450, compared to the $1700 under the current law.
Because of the negative response to the CBO report, the House GOP amended the original proposal and introduced bill H.R. 1628 into the House on March 20th, by Rep. Diane Black. A few days later, on March 23rd, the CBO responded again with a modified report. In the updated report, which included the manager’s amendments, the CBO estimated that by enacting H.R. 1628, the AHCA would reduce the federal deficit by $150 billion over a nine year period. However, 14 million more individuals would be uninsured by 2018 and 24 million uninsured by 2026. Also, by 2026 the CBO estimated that 52 million people under the age of 65 would be uninsured and average premiums would increase. The CBO noted that the proposed amendments would have similar effects on healthcare coverage as the previous report estimated.
While on the presidential campaign, President Trump vowed to insure more Americans and reduce healthcare cost. His plan would eliminate the individual and employer mandate penalties, dismantle the Obamacare taxes and encourage Health Savings Account. The AHCA put forth by Congressional Republicans, however, would reduce only the federal deficit by defunding Medicaid programs. It would increase healthcare cost and premiums and modify tax cuts that would benefit households that make $1 million. The controversial AHCA would have eliminated health care coverage for 24 million people by 2026. The bill was expected to be the first victory of the Trump administration. On Thursday, March 23rd, the vote to pass the bill in the House was postponed due to disagreement on the bill from both Democrats and conservative Republicans. In an effort to pass a healthcare bill, President Trump demanded a vote the following day.
During a turn of events on an active Friday afternoon (March 24th) at 3:31PM, the AHCA officially failed and was pulled by President Trump.
The Affordable Care Act/Obamacare still remains the law after seven years of existence.