28 Apr The Current Status of the AHCA
No matter your politics, we all had some anticipatory anxiety after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law. It promised sweeping changes to our industry, and none of us knew for sure exactly how this would change the healthcare landscape. Now, seven years after the passage of the ACA, many elements of the law are fully integrated into our healthcare system. There’s a very interesting article in Modern Healthcare this week that asks whether states will return to the pre-ACA status quo if the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passes.
Late this week it became clear that the AHCA would not come up for vote this week, but the bill has made its way back into the news. The initial round of discussions on the first version of the bill had elements that were barriers to support for both conservative Republicans as well as more moderate Republicans. Discussions this week on potential alterations to the bill have garnered more support from conservative Republicans, but have resulted in wavering support on the part of moderates.
Two of the major elements that have been under discussion this week include removing the pre-existing condition coverage requirement provided by the ACA, and providing more flexibility to the states to decide whether they will require health coverage sold in each state to require the inclusion of the ten minimum essential benefits.
The Modern Healthcare article cites trepidation from several players in the healthcare industry in reaction to some of these changes. Blue Cross Blue Shield of IL indicated that they may re-think their participation on the Illinois exchange. Their withdrawal from the exchange would result in a dramatic decrease in coverage choices.
The article cites a conservative policy analyst who indicated that no governors have expressed interest in taking advantage of a waiver of minimum essential benefits in a return to medical underwriting, which would inevitably include the creation of high-risk pools. This would potentially be a step in the direction of the aim of the AHCA which is reducing premiums for most, but with thirty six gubernatorial seats up for election next fall, this option may be avoided as generally, it is more difficult to remove health benefits from individuals once they have already been granted, and voters may indicate their displeasure at the voting booths.
We will continue to keep you apprised of developments with this, and other legislation affecting health care providers.
You can find the full article from Modern Healthcare here: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20170426/NEWS/170429890