Is GOP health overhaul a good plan?

Johnson City Press • Mar 20, 2017 at 12:00 AM

The Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Health Care Act is getting a thumbs down from the Congressional Budget Office. The GOP-sponsored American Health Care Act is also receiving low marks from some Republicans who believe the proposal is not conservative enough.

According to a report compiled jointly by the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation, the changes that Republicans would like to make to President Obama’s signature health care law, which went into effect in 2010, would leave 14 million more Americans uninsured by 2018. Some of that increase is a result of the GOP’s plan to drop the individual mandate that now requires people to purchase health insurance coverage.

As more of the Republican changes become law, the CBO predicts 24 million more people than under the Affordable Care Act will be without insurance by 2026. The CBO says that’s because of changes in Medicaid enrollment that will give states more control over programs for lower-income residents.

As Press Assistant News Editor Nathan Baker reported last week, the CBO estimates the average health care costs will be lower than under the ACA, but premium changes will hit various age groups differently. That is because of a proposed flat tax credit structure and the loosening of age-rating rules governing rate gaps between younger and older enrollees. That will mean insurers will be able to charge five times more for older people than younger people.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed criticism of the Republican health care overhaul plan last week and released a statement insisting the CBO “report confirms that the American Health Care Act will lower premiums and improve access to quality, affordable care.” He said the plan will “provide massive tax relief, dramatically reduce the deficit, and make the most fundamental entitlement reform in more than a generation.”

Other Republican leaders questioned the findings of the CBO report, arguing that their plan will cover more individuals at a lower cost than Obamacare, while giving consumers more choices. In a statement released early last week, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said repealing and replacing Obamacare was very important to Tennessee residents, who are enrolled in health insurance coverage through the ACA’s exchanges.

“What’s on my mind are the more than 230,000 Tennesseans — some of the most vulnerable people in our state — who may have zero health insurance options next year if Congress does not replace and repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “I’m still reviewing the CBO report, and the bill is still going through the legislative process — we’re off to a good beginning.”

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, has called the GOP health care reform plan “good policy that will give every American who wants health coverage the ability to purchase it.”

The retired Johnson City physician also told the Press that he is looking forward to debating the legislation and “enacting commonsense health care reform that will turn the page on Obamacare and give patients the coverage options they deserve.”

Tell us what you think of the Republican health care overhaul. Does it sound like a better plan than Obamacare, or does it need more work?

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