by Sojourner Staff
WASHINGTON D.C. – Congress today will vote on the replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A drawn out debate that spans back to the summer of 2009 when Democratic members of Congress were engaging in town hall meetings on a health care plan for the United States, and their opposition were peddling stories of death panels and rampant socialism.
One of the biggest stories surrounding the replacement bill, the American Health Care Act, has been the number of people who would lose their health care plan due to the legislation’s rollback on Medicaid expansion under the ACA. Other talking points have noted the higher premiums for those who opt out of the plan (up to a 30 percent increase) and seek to re-enter as well as the tax break it is seen as for the country’s wealthiest citizens.
Here in New York’s 22nd Congressional district, a vote to repeal the ACA by Representative Claudia Tenney (R) would strip thousands of people of their health care. The amounts vary and numbers of up to 80,000 have been thrown around, but according to Indivisible Guide, the estimate for the district in the face of an ACA repeal would leave 63,691 people uninsured.
The American Health Care Act would also result in massive cuts in funding to hospitals throughout the 22nd district. According to the US Department of Health, the following hospitals would be impacted with cuts in their funding:
· Chenango Memorial Hospital — $1,340,299
· Community Memorial Hospital — $467,179
· Cortland Regional Medical Center — $1,265,230
· Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare — $5,385,953
· Little Falls Hospital — $492,832
· Oneida Healthcare Center — $959,873
· Our Lady of Lourdes Memorial Hospital — $4,356,566
· Rome Memorial Hospital — $1,726,131
· St. Elizabeth Medical Center — $3,547,310
· United Health Services — $8,537,026
· District Total — $28,078,399
What’s in the bill?
It has so far proven to be a tough sell to get support for the bill itself. Among the most notable changes to the current legislation, the individual mandate to purchase a health care plan, which has been roundly criticized from all sides, would be eliminated.
There are similarities to the ACA, however. Insurers cannot turn people away for pre-existing conditions, which was among the most popular aspects of the bill. Customers also receive subsidies in the form of tax credits to spend in the individual market, and the replacement bill seeks to encourage people to stay insured.
Still, the subsidies are less. Spending on Medicaid is also reduced, and the bill eliminates taxes on wealthier Americans introduced in the Affordable Care Act.
Under the ACA, there are protections in place to help people afford health care plans by limiting the percentage of their income that they have to spend on a plan. The lowest would be 3 percent while the highest is 9.5. The AHCA changes this with a tax credit based on age which tops out at $4,000 and leaves no options to deal with higher premiums that the credit cannot cover.
The Republican-backed bill would also phase out the Medicaid expansion featured in the ACA while the government would dole out fixed subsidies per person to each state. A CBO estimate on the amount who could lose their coverage over this was about 14 million.
While the effects of the new bill, if passed, wouldn’t go into affect until 2020, the CBO also estimates that up to 26 million would lose their coverage by 2026 under the plan.