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Surprise! Buried Deep in GOP Health Bill

Surprise! Buried Deep in GOP Health Bill
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The Obamacare repeal is only temporary—expires in six years.

A few weeks ago, we told you about a new proposal described by nearly everyone as an attempt  to repeal and replace Obamacare. The bill has now been introduced by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC).

Overall, the initiative would eliminate federal subsidies for private insurance and the Medicaid expansion, transforming these funds into block grants to states to spend as they see fit, with some restrictions. States that have Obamacare can keep it if they want, although state governments would need to kick in some of their own money to continue. States that want a different system could make the necessary adjustments.

Some other brief points about the bill:

  • It repeals the individual and employer mandate;
  • It repeals some Obamacare taxes, principally the tax on medical equipment;
  • Like previous repeal/replace proposals, it lifts many restrictions on Health Savings Accounts (HSAs);
  • Obamacare requirements such as “essential health benefits” are NOT repealed, though states can apply for waivers from those regulations from 2020 through 2026, which means that a future administration could eliminate the waivers and bring back Obamacare rules for everyone;
  • The bill allows all individuals the option to purchase catastrophic health coverage, though these plans would be incorporated into the individual single risk pool, which we have warned against, because it will likely make the catastrophic only policies unaffordable.

Because the Graham-Cassidy legislation will have to move through the budget reconciliation process, Congress’ deadline to pass it is September 30. After that, it could be brought up down the road, but not soon.

Whether one supports or opposes Obamacare, it is not helpful to advertise a “repeal” bill that does not actually repeal it at all.

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