House Voted to Repeal Affordable Care Act, Defund Planned Parenthood

Posted on May 5, 2017

Originally appearing online in TeenVogue
By: Araceli Cruz
May 4, 207 6:06PM

Less than two months since Republicans pulled their health care plan, which would have dismantled the Affordable Care Act, because they didn’t have enough votes to approve it on the House floor, a revised version was voted on in the House today and narrowly passed.

Republicans were extremely confident this morning, playing the theme song to Rocky as they walked into a House meeting, CNN reported.

“A lot of us have been waiting seven years to cast this vote,” House speaker Paul Ryan said on the floor today. The final tally was very close, with 217 voting yes on the new bill, and 213 voting no. Not a single Democrat voted for the bill.

Since the original bill’s failure in March, an amendment was added to address pre-existing conditions, though, even with the addition many say that those with pre-existing conditions will have to pay more for coverage or they will receive subpar coverage. The bill would also allow insurers to charge higher premiums to older people, CNN Money reports. Under the Affordable Care Act, they can charge only three times more than they do younger enrollees, but that would increase to five times under the new bill. According to CNN Money, the bill would also “eliminate the taxes the law levied on wealthy Americans, insurers, prescription drug makers, device manufacturers and others.” Even if you are insured through your employer, the new bill could change the type of coverage you receive, Salon reports.

According to The Washington Post, the health bill would also defund Planned Parenthood for one year. The Post reports the bill would block the organization from receiving Medicaid reimbursements for the care it provides. Like other medical providers, Planned Parenthood bills Medicaid when people who use the government healthcare program get services from the organization. This House bill would mean the clinic would not be reimbursed for those services. Federal Medicaid funding does not cover abortion. According to the Post, this will result in about a 30% reduction in funding.

In an emailed statement, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Cecile Richards called the bill disastrous.

“This is the worst bill for women’s health in a generation. This disastrous legislation once again makes being a woman a pre-existing condition; ‘defunds’ Planned Parenthood; guts maternity coverage; strips 24 million of their health insurance; lets insurance companies charge people with pre-existing conditions exorbitant rates; forces new moms back to work shortly after giving birth; and reduces access to contraception,” Richards said. “In short, this bill makes it harder to prevent unintended pregnancy, harder to have a healthy pregnancy, and harder to raise a family. Alarm bells should be ringing in every house across America.”

Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) negotiated the amendment that addressed pre-existing conditions. With the amendment, “states could seek a waiver from Obamacare’s current requirement that insurers charge people the same for coverage regardless of whether they have a pre-existing condition,” NBC News reports.

This means that if states utilize the waiver option, they still have to provide some sort of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, but “insurers can charge sick people far more for plans if their coverage has lapsed, and coverage also might not include treatments for their condition,” according to NBC News.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) proposed another amendment that would provide $8 billion over the next five years to help insurers cover their sickest enrollees, The New York Times reported. This is in addition to $115 billion provided in an earlier version of the bill.

“Even with all the layers of funding in the bill and the subsequent amendments, the money falls short of what would really be necessary to cover the cost of people with pre-existing conditions,” Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told NBC News.

So what is a pre-existing condition? It can include common conditions like asthma, diabetes, and depression, ailments like cancer, and even pregnancy.

The Congressional Budget Office reported that under an earlier version of the bill 24 million more people will go uninsured by 2026 than under the Affordable Care Act.

While some Republicans and Trump touted the revised bill with claims that it will have lower deductibles and premiums, many experts argue with that assessment, saying that costs will likely rise for the most vulnerable, according to PolitiFact.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) had previously told CNN that people with certain pre-existing conditions should pay more than those who do not, to help offset costs.

So what’s next for this bill? The bill, known as the American Health Care Act, now faces a vote in the Senate, and approval there is predicted to be an even bigger challenge. The main obstacle, CNN reports, is that in order for the bill to qualify for a simple majority (51 votes versus the usual 60-vote threshold) “it must meet special requirements under budget reconciliation rules.”

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