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home : most recent : statewide implications August 23, 2017

3/12/2017 6:50:00 PM
EDITORIAL: Proposed health care plan would harm many Americans

Herald Bulletin

If you cut through politics and look at the specifics of the American Health Care Act, President Donald Trump's Obamacare "repeal and replace" plan moving through House of Representatives committees, you'll see that it cuts benefits and jeopardizes access to health care for millions of Americans.

Here in Madison County, the pain would be particularly keen. Among local residents, 86 percent of those with a Marketplace Plan receive some sort of Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) subsidy, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The AHCA has been decried by those who understand that the Affordable Care Act has many beneficial provisions. It's made health care coverage available to millions of Americans who previously couldn't afford it, expanded eligibility for Medicaid, blocked limits on benefits and assured that health insurance eligibility can't be denied based on preexisting conditions.

Obamacare also paved the way in Indiana for the Healthy Indiana Plan and HIP 2.0, which have proved beneficial to hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers. If the AHCA becomes law, HIP 2.0 will be compromised.

Those who have paid attention to the way Obamacare has transformed Americans' access to health care, which was badly in need of reform, aren't the only ones who oppose the American Health Care Act.

Conservatives are upset with the AHCA, too. They see clearly that it would not truly repeal Obamacare but only modify it to make it more appealing to wealthier Americans and insurance companies. Conservatives have termed it "Obamacare Lite."

Smart Republican lawmakers, after striving for the past several years to turn Obamacare into a lightning rod for conservative disenchantment, knew that the plan offered too many benefits to simply repeal it. They would have to retain many features. And the American Health Care Act would do just that, including the ability for children to stay on their parents' health insurance until the age of 26.

Many Americans who oppose Obamacare dislike some of the more rigid features of the program, such as the fines levied on individuals for failing to carry health insurance and the idea that businesses would be penalized for declining to provide insurance assistance for employees.

The AHCA would nix these measures, but it would do little to reduce the high insurance premiums and out-of-pocket payments that Obamacare had in some cases generated.

In fact, the annual premium of a 60-year-old American with income of just less than $30,000 would grow by $4,867, according to a Families USA analysis. And the annual premium for a family of three with about the same income would balloon by $7,568.

Meanwhile, wealthier Americans would benefit from the AHCA. Under Obamacare, a 60-year-old earning $70,000 would be ineligible for assistance. Under the Trump plan, he would get a $4,000 health-care credit.

Determined to keep political promises that they shouldn't, House Republicans are bent on replacing Obamacare with a plan that would make health care access in the United States worse rather than better for those who can't afford it.

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• EDITORIAL: Obamacare led to HIP 2.0, and plan deserves support
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