Written by Aldo Gonzalez
News cycles are running rampant delving into the American Health Care Act (AHCA). But what exactly is it and what would it do?
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score notes that the bill reduces the deficit by $150.3 billion over ten years—$186.2 billion less than the original proposal. Additionally, the CBO expects 24 million people to be uninsured by 2026. This forecast results from expected deficit reductions due to tax cuts, coupled with the elimination of subsidies and Medicaid expansion.
The AHCA eliminates tax penalties for failure to purchase a healthcare plan, the individual mandate. Additionally, the bill eliminates a 0.9 percent tax on income above a certain threshold, a 2.3 percent tax on the sale price of certain medical devices, a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services, and the “Cadillac Tax”, a 40 percent tax on high-cost insurance plans. The bill keeps mandatory coverage for preexisting conditions and allows people to stay on their parents’ plan until the age of 26.
The bill also allows insurers to charge a 30 percent premium to those entering the individual market without continuous coverage, defined as a lapse in coverage of 63 days or more over the previous year. Avalare, a healthcare research firm, released an analysis indicating the damaging effects on the wallets of low-income individuals while providing a break for the wealthy.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), low-income individuals receive income-based tax credits. Republicans scrap this model in favor of one based upon age. The credits range from $2,000 to $4,000, with a $14,000 cap per family. However, individuals earning more than $75,000 and married couples earning more than $150,000 are not eligible. A disturbing reality for older insurees lies in the ability for an insurer to charge five times what it charges younger insurers as health complications begin to emerge.
At the crux of this debate lies a battle between political philosophies concerning the social contract. Specifically, a redefinition of our commitment to each other’s humanity in our contemporary society is approaching. Once the final revision of the Republican healthcare plan is enacted into law and the effects take root, the American people will decide whether health is a consumer product or a right.