The proposed Senate healthcare bill has failed, but another bad idea has risen to take its place. Recent reports show that the Senate will soon consider just repealing the Affordable Care Act, without have any replacement healthcare bill, and that a vote on this will take place early next week. This idea is a terrible one that will harm tens of millions of Americans. Congress should reject the proposal and instead focus on enacting legislation to reduce out-of-control drug prices.
Republican Senate leaders have promised to put the repeal of the ACA to vote, and it is very similar to a 2015 bill that nearly all Republicans supported. The Congressional Budget office analyzed this repeal bill, and the results are not pretty. It estimates that 17 million people would lose their health insurance in the first year after the bill’s passage and that over the same period premiums would go up by 25%. Federal funding for Medicaid would decline by $842 billion over the next decade. By 2026, 32 million fewer people would have health insurance.
The bill would fund the ACA’s cost-sharing subsidies for two years in an effort to reduce uncertainty for health insurers. But CBO estimates this would make little difference in the long run. Insurers would quickly pull out of the exchange markets and leave huge numbers of people without any individual coverage options.
Fortunately, three moderate Republican Senators have pledged to oppose any repeal of the ACA with a replacement bill. And in order to the pass the law, or to even begin debating it, 50 out of the 52 Republican members must vote for the motion to proceed. Senator Mitch McConnell is encouraging his caucus to support the bill just so debate can start, and he may be open to changing certain provisions. However, the underlying structure of the bill will remain the same.
This proposal is even worse than the previous bill. An additional 10 million people will lose health insurance; 32 million will lack coverage instead of 22 million under the Better Care Reconciliation Act. That is not progress. Congress is supposed to act in the best interests of the American people, not hurt them. And the overwhelming majority of Americans oppose this new plan; only 26% support repealing the ACA without a replacement.
Instead of harming people, Congress should try helping them. Prescription drug prices have been going up for years and increasingly Americans cannot afford their medicines. A whole bunch of bills to reduce drug prices are languishing in Congress. They include the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiations Act, the CREATES Act, the C-THRU Act, and many others. Members of Congress should swiftly pass these bills and ensure all Americans can get affordable prescription medicines. That is a far more worthy project then wrecking the nation’s health care system.