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- Two GOP committee leaders, Rep. Kevin Brady and Sen. Orrin Hatch, released their own plan to stabilize the US healthcare system.The plan would appropriate the key payments introduced by the Affordable Care Act but also do away with the law’s individual and employer mandates.The plan would be unlikely to stabilize the individual market and would face a difficult time in the Senate.
Two Republican leaders on Tuesday announced their own package to temporarily shore up the Obamacare exchanges, but the deal appears to be as much a repeal of the law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, as a fix for it.
Healthcare has attracted renewed interest from lawmakers after President Donald Trump announced that he would end cost-sharing reduction payments, or payments by the government to insurers designed to offset the costs of providing affordable coverage to poor people.
Rep. Kevin Brady, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, rolled out a four-point plan for the Obamacare exchanges that funds the payments payments while also stripping away the law’s cornerstone mandates.
The key aspects of the Brady-Hatch plan are:
Fund CSR payments through 2019: The plan also says there are “pro-life” protections on the payments, which most likely means restrictions on using the payments for plans that cover abortions. The plan also hints at guardrails for the use of these payments but does not specify them. Suspend the individual mandate from 2017 to 2021: The plan would remove the financial penalty for people who do not purchase healthcare coverage. Refund employer mandate penalties incurred from 2015 to 2017: Any penalties companies paid for not offering health insurance to their employees over the past three years would apparently be refunded. Expand the use of health savings accounts: The plan wants to increase the contribution on these tax-deductible accounts.
Hatch and Brady painted the plan as a way to help boost the markets while also addressing underlying issues with Obamacare.
“What we’re proposing not only helps treat some of Obamacare’s symptoms – rising premiums, fewer choices, and uncertainty and instability,” Brady said in a statement announcing the plan. “It takes steps to cure Obamacare’s underlying illness through patient-centered reforms that deliver relief from federal mandates, protect life, and increase choices in healthcare.”
The repeal of the mandates, however, could seriously undermine the health of the Obamacare exchanges, according to Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-policy think tank.
“Getting rid of the individual mandate for five years without anything to replace it is kind of the opposite of market stabilization,” Levitt tweeted after the release of the plan.
Thus, it is unlikely this plan gathers much steam, especially in the Senate, where it would be subject to a Democratic filibuster.
The full text of the Brady-Hatch plan will be released later, the statement said.