House Passes Legislation to Repeal and Replace Affordable Care Act
On May 4, 2017, House Republicans passed legislation to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare.” The bill would effectively repeal the ACA’s “individual mandate” by eliminating tax penalties for individuals who choose not to purchase health insurance. The measure also removes the requirement that employers with at least 50 employees provide health insurance to their workers. Government subsidies for those purchasing insurance in the marketplace would be replaced by tax credits of $2,000 to $4,000 per year, depending on age and income. In addition, states would have the option to seek waivers to the federal requirement that insurers cover ten essential health benefits, including emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and mental health and substance abuse. The bill also rolls back Medicaid expansion, allows states to establish a work requirement for Medicaid and revamps Medicaid funding by instituting a “per capita cap” wherein states would receive a fixed amount of money per enrollee.
The legislation narrowly passed by a vote of 217-213 and is expected to face steep opposition from both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, who are said to be already working to revise several of its key provisions. Many speculate that the bill could be significantly amended if it returns to the House for another vote.