PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to House Passing Replacement for Obamacare
"Truly patient-centered, free-market reform would cease from steering tax dollars toward insurers and rewarding individuals with tax credits for buying overpriced insurance plans." - Michael Hamilton
The U.S. House of Representatives today voted 217–213 to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The bill repeals and replaces the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which has been in effect since 2010.
Among other things, the AHCA, crafted by the House Republican Caucus, eliminates all of the taxes in Obamacare, eliminates the individual and employer mandate penalties, guarantees coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions, allows adults under the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ health insurance, repeals Medicaid expansion and gives states more control over the program, and institutes a slew of tax credits to help Americans purchase insurance.
The following statements from health care policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at firstname.lastname@example.org and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554.
“The Republican repeal and replace of Obamacare is the biggest reduction in government since the end of World War II. Spending will be reduced by over $1 trillion, almost all in entitlement spending. Taxes will be reduced by almost $1 trillion, and the deficit reduced by the difference, which is hundreds of billions of dollars. The bill also includes hundreds of billions of dollars in reduced regulatory burdens. Any Republican who failed to vote for this is begging for a primary challenge next year.”
Mr. Ferrara is the author of Power to the People: The New Road to Freedom and Prosperity for the Poor, Seniors, and Those Most in Need of the World’s Best Health Care (2015), and The Obamacare Disaster (2010).
“The House’s passage of the much-amended American Health Care Act (AHCA) proves congressional Republicans’ resolve to improve upon Obamacare come hell or high water. Mere improvement on Obamacare is far less than Republicans and President Trump promised, but this bill could prove the tip of the iceberg.
“The bill’s effectiveness now hinges on Senate markup, Senate approval, state willpower to obtain waiver exemptions to Obamacare mandates, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s pen, and congressional follow-through on other promised reforms.
“Truly patient-centered, free-market reform would cease from steering tax dollars toward insurers and rewarding individuals with tax credits for buying overpriced insurance plans. Lawmakers and voters should continue their vigilant pursuit of a health care system with less government and more patient choice.”
“I applaud congressional Republicans who stood firm to defund the so called ‘Prevention and Public Health Fund,’ which was a wasteful Centers for Disease Control slush fund used to interfere with local government prerogatives, to advance the CDC director’s pet projects.
“Cutting off federal taxpayer dollars to fund this type of federal intervention in local affairs is a sound policy approach which would limit not only the potential for abuse in the current administration, but for future administrations, something the Senate and even the White House should support. The most vocal critics of the defunding were actual or potential beneficiaries of the fund. Their self-serving protestations should be taken at face-value.”
“Notwithstanding the politics with all of this, any reasonably informed person, I believe, will acknowledge the fact that the Affordable Care Act in its current form is not the least bit sustainable even over the near term. And by ‘near term’ I mean by 2018 or 2019. Obamacare is collapsing under its own weight, and something needs to be done reasonably soon to change the law’s death spiral trajectory.
“While the AHCA bill that the House passed this afternoon keeps the most popular provisions of Obamacare – such as coverage of pre-existing conditions and allowing adult children to remain enrolled on their parents’ policies until their 26th birthdays – there are changes that, if enacted, should help bring down health insurance costs, stabilize insurance markets, and increase options for consumers. This includes expanding health savings accounts, creating a national risk pool, providing strong incentives for continuous coverage, and allowing tax credits to be used for truly catastrophic coverage.
“In large part, the bill sends the regulation of insurance back to the states, if the states choose to act. In my view, the closer one is able to get policy changes, particularly with something like health care, to consumers instead of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ Washington, DC approach, the better.”
“The tortured route to a vote on the House floor for the AHCA is evidence just how difficult an issue health care is. It is not ‘one size fits all,’ as supporters of Obamacare would like it to be. Health care is different for everyone. That’s why no plan will work for all.
“Hopefully, the AHCA will put us back on a different path where innovation and entrepreneurship will be allowed to thrive and health care will be better for all patients.”
“We are supportive of the state-level waivers and believe Pennsylvania should take advantage of any federal flexibility that puts patients in charge of their health care. The past seven years have shown us no one in Congress is qualified to make health care decisions for Pennsylvanians.
“Waivers to essential health benefits, community rating, and guaranteed issue mandates will allow the individual market to offer a wider variety of plans, including plans with lower costs. Before Obamacare, states like New Hampshire and Washington implemented guaranteed issue only to repeal it after costs skyrocketed. Unfortunately we didn’t learn from history. Health care is an extremely unique and personal service; why would the scope of insurance plans be any different?”
“The passage in the House of the American Health Care Act signals we’ll likely see at least a partial repeal of some of the features of Obamacare. Protecting access to insurance for those with pre-existing conditions, while eliminating tax penalties and employer and patient mandates, is a move in the right direction. Assuming passage in the Senate, this will offer patients more choice of how and who provides their health care, including the freedom to choose a private or direct care model.”
“The American Health Care Act is not repeal – and the American people wanted full repeal of Obamacare. Under AHCA, the federal government is still in control of health care, and states must ask permission to opt out of Obamacare’s price controls for health insurance premiums and mandated benefits. Health plans will remain in control as well. The prohibition on catastrophic indemnity plans remains in place. AHCA does not return health freedom to Americans.”
“Gov. Jay Inslee urged members of Washington’s congressional delegation to vote against the AHCA. But he overlooked several aspects of this bill. First of all, the Medicaid expansion would not terminate until 2020. The idea of the AHCA bill is that in the next 2-1/2 years people would transition off this expanded Medicaid. Remember Washington state was not obligated to expand Medicaid under the ACA.
“Second, Inslee assumed every person in the exchange now will become uninsured. Obviously some will choose to not find health insurance, but many will find insurance – through the individual market or their employer. Third, the Medicaid expansion in the ACA was for health insurance for 18- to 64-year-olds, not long-term care or disabled care. Fourth, the AHCA gives a lot more control of health care back to the states. You would think a governor would welcome that.”