The Latest Developments in Health Care Legislature

The Latest Developments in Health Care Legislature

After months of back and forth regarding health care reform, it looks like we may be back to square one. Here’s what’s happening now in health care legislature.

The Senate releases the BCRA and delays voting twice. After the Senate revealed the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) in June, voting on it was delayed twice. The first delay meant that voting would not take place until after the July 4 recess. Business Insider reports that this decision was made because several key members of the Republican Party opposed the bill. On July 15, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the vote would be delayed again while Senator John McCain undergoes and recovers from surgery.

An amendment increases controversy. Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee proposed an amendment to the BCRA that would let insurers who sell at least one plan that meets the ACA requirements sell other plans that do not. This would allow more options for people looking for less expensive plans. However, not everyone likes the idea. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the change would lead to higher premiums for 1.5 million people with pre-existing conditions. 

A revised BCRA is released. On July 13, members of the Republican Party unveiled a revised version of the BCRA. Employee Benefit Adviser reports that many aspects of the BCRA that are favorable toward employers have been kept intact. This includes an end to penalties for non-compliance with the employer mandate.  The Hill reports that a version of the Cruz amendment is included in the revised version of the BCRA. Kaiser Family Foundation provides a comparison of the updated BCRA and the ACA, as well as the American Health Care Act passed by the House of Representatives and several other plans that have been proposed.  

The CBO issues a cost estimate. On June 26, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published a cost estimate for the BCRA that includes two major predictions. First, the legislation would reduce the federal deficit by $321 billion. Second, 49 million Americans would be uninsured by 2026 as a result of the law. This is an increase of 22 million compared to the 28 million Americans who would be uninsured under the ACA. Think Advisor reports that, as of July 17, the CBO has not updated its cost estimate to reflect revisions to the bill.

McConnell Admits Defeat. On July 17, Mitch McConnell issued a statement admitting that the Republican Party’s effort to repeal and replace the ACA would not be successful. The decision came immediately after two Senators from the Republican Party announced that they would vote against the BCRA. 

Republicans look at other options. Several backup plans have already been discussed. According to HeathcareDIVE, Mitch McConnell wants to introduce legislature to stabilize the individual market under the ACA, while Ted Cruz and President Trump have expressed support for repealing the ACA now and replacing it later.

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