“Repeal and delay” means big trouble for your health care
Mitch McConnell. | AP

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has announced that he will schedule a vote the week of July 24 on so-called repeal and delay legislation that would repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and push off coming up with a replacement plan until sometime in a future Congress. While he and others are trying to sell this as a way to buy more time for developing a replacement plan—something Senate Republicans have failed to do for seven years—this plan would actually have a devastating impact on health care for millions of people right away.

McConnell says he wants to pass the same legislation Congress did in 2015, which former president Barack Obama vetoed. Therefore, we have a clear idea of what will be in his bill and the impact it will have.

Despite being called “repeal and delay,” his bill immediately repeals some parts of the ACA, including requirements that individuals have insurance coverage or pay a penalty and that mid-size and large employers offer affordable coverage to full-time employees. It also repeals immediately all of the tax provisions that pay for the ACA, including an investment income tax and an additional Medicare tax that only affect people with high incomes, generally more than $200,000 for singles and $250,000 for couples. The bill delays by two years repeal of the ACA’s financial assistance to help individuals pay insurance premiums and cover high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs, as well as elimination of federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid to more low-income adults.

When Congress’ budget and tax experts looked at McConnell’s proposal earlier this year, they found that it would take insurance away from huge numbers of people within a year of enactment, premiums would spike and insurance companies would start dropping out of the market. Here are some of their key findings:

Massive Cuts in Health Insurance Coverage: In the first year after the Republican “repeal and delay” bill is enacted, it would take insurance away from 18 million people. If no replacement plan were in place three years after enactment, 27 million more people would be uninsured, with that number jumping to 32 million within 10 years after enactment, including 19 million people cut off from Medicaid.

Huge Increases in Premiums for Individual Coverage: In the first year after the Republican bill is enacted, premiums for health insurance would jump by 20-25%, compared to what they would be without repeal. Three years after enactment, premiums would be 50% higher than they would have been; within a decade, premiums would be about 100% higher.

Insurance Is No Longer Available to Buy: In the first year after the Republican bill is enacted, more insurers would drop out, leaving 10% of the population living in areas where no insurance company sells individual coverage. Three years after enactment, 50% of the population would live in areas with no insurers selling this coverage. More than 75% of the population would have no insurer willing to sell them coverage within a decade.

This piece was originally published in the AFL-CIO Now Blog


CONTRIBUTOR

Shaun O’Brien
Shaun O’Brien

Sean O'Brien works for the AFL-CIO. His focus is on retirement security and health care. And he's a  Yankees fan.

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