Republicans Ready to Act on ACA Replacement

Republicans gathered in Philadelphia this week in order to hash out their legislative priorities for the year, and priority number one will be repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act by April. At the moment, there are multiple replacement plans floating around Capitol Hill.

Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) held a press conference last week to announce their replacement plan, Patient Freedom Act of 2017, while Representative Pete Sessions is set to introduce a companion bill in the House, The World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan.

One of Republicans biggest critiques for the ACA was that it limited individuals’ choices, and it is with this philosophy that the Patient Freedom Act will allow states that are happy with the ACA exchanges to stay under Obamacare. States will be able to decide from three options:

  1. Opt to stay in Obamacare
  2. Opt for no federal help,
  3. Go with the “default option” created under the Patient Freedom Act

If enacted, the PFA would give state legislators until 2019 to analyze the options available to them, then begin implementing their choice. By 2020, the new insurance legislation would be completely up and running.

Meanwhile, Senator Rand Paul released an outline for his plan, The Obamacare Replacement Act, this Wednesday. Paul believes his plan has the President’s blessing, as he announced earlier this month, Paul announced that President Trump was in “complete agreement” with repealing and replacing the ACA simultaneously.

During a recent press conference, Dr. Paul announced the problem with Obamacare is that, “Many individuals who gained subsidized insurance are still, for all practical purposes, without insurance because the deductibles are beyond the reach of low income workers.”

Paul’s plan stresses the importance of individual healthcare plans as opposed to the current employer-offered status quo most Americans find themselves with today. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) would provides individuals the option of a tax credit of up to $5,000 per taxpayer. Individuals could also rollover their HSAs to a child, parent, or grandparent, in addition to a spouse.

Another notable aspect of Rand’s plan is its emphasis on self-care. One of the most effective ways to mitigate your risk of disease or early death is by controlling for what you can control. The ORA expands allowable HSA expenses to include equipment for physical exercise or health coaching, including weight loss program

Some Republicans have privately expressed discontent with the Trump administration’s effort to, as they see, usurp Congress’s Constitutional authority by crafting the legislation.

Whichever plan Republicans eventually coalesce behind will still have to reach 60 votes in order to pass through the Senate, meaning eight Democrats will have to be swayed into support. Hopefully, the ACA’s costly failure will ensure that Congress meets Speaker Ryan’s April deadline.