February 16th, House Republican leaders held a closed-door meeting to discuss their ACA replacement plan and identify the components that could be included in the budget reconciliation bill. As expected, the components included in the repeal plan are very similar to the ACA repeal bill vetoed by President Obama in January of last year.
At that meeting, an Obamacare Repeal and Replace Policy Brief and Resources, authored by the Congressional Committees with jurisdiction over the healthcare reform process, was provided to House members. While falling short of a final ACA replacement plan and process, it does outline the goals Republicans have set as they move closer to an impending ACA repeal vote.
The policy brief outlines how House Republications will use repeal and replace legislation to:
Modernize Medicaid: Without additional regulatory mandates, the strategy aims to empower states to design plans that best meet their needs and positions Medicaid to be financially sustainable. Currently, the Medicaid program is unsustainable with three times the size and costs than under the Clinton Administration.
The reforms will focus to help those most in need, put Medicaid on a budget, and ensure a smooth transition for anyone receiving care under their state’s Medicaid expansions.
Utilize state innovation grants: States know how to best take care of their patients and will be able to repair any market damage caused by Obamacare. As explained in A Better Way, providing funding for state innovation programs – whether high-risk pools, reducing out-of-pocket costs such as premiums and deductibles, or promoting access to healthcare services – gives states the resources they need to care for their unique patient populations.
Enhance health savings accounts (HSAs): Obamacare limits how individuals can spend and save their healthcare dollars. The proposal empowers individuals and families to spend their healthcare dollars the way they want and need by enhancing and expanding opportunities for HSAs.
For example, the proposal increases the amount of money an individual or family can put into their HSA and allows individuals and families to spend money from their HSA on over-the-counter healthcare items. It allows spouses to make additional contributions and expands the amount of time an individual or family can use an HSA for certain expenses.
Provide portable, monthly tax credits: Provides all Americans access to a portable, monthly tax credit that can used to buy a health insurance plans that are right for the individual – not just those tied to a job or government-mandated program.
Timing of repeal & replace: Per House Speaker Paul Ryan, the final ACA repeal and replace legislation is likely to be introduced after the President’s Day recess. Exact timing is unclear, as any legislation will need to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office before a vote can be held.
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