Last week the Republicans in Congress abandoned their plan to vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) for fear that they would not have enough votes within their own party for it to pass.
The AHCA, which would have decimated the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was pulled at the very last minute on Friday after days of back and forth between House Speaker Ryan and President Trump, during which Trump threatened to completely abandon healthcare reform if the AHCA was not immediately brought up for a vote in the House.
The President lashed out at House Democrats after the bill was pulled, threatening that he would now allow the Affordable Care Act to “explode,” while Speaker Ryan informed fellow Republicans that they would now be “moving on” to matters such as tax reform.
When the ACHA was first introduced in the middle of March, many speculated that it would never be able to pass the Senate, but few anticipated its failure to garner enough votes in the House where the bill was constructed and Republicans hold a significant majority. Moderate Republicans feared the bill would jeopardize the health insurance of too many Americans, while the extremely conservative Freedom Caucus felt the bill did not go far enough to remove provisions set under the ACA.
“In my life, I have never seen an administration as incompetent as the one occupying the White House today,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “Today we learned they can’t count votes and they can’t close a deal. So much for the art of the deal.”
The AHCA would have initiated tax credits based on age instead of income bracket, repealed the cost sharing subsidies that made insurance in the ACA marketplace more affordable, and ended most of the Obama era taxes that were instituted to supplement the costs of those subsidies. The bill would have also removed the individual mandate, which likely would have led to healthier people opting out of purchasing health insurance, causing out-of-pocket expenses for those left with coverage to skyrocket. The AHCA called for the end of mandates that insurance providers cover essential health benefits such as hospitalization, maternity care and mental health services.
Under the AHCA, block grant funding for Medicaid would have been instituted by 2020, ending the program as we know it and leaving states with increasingly less money to assist the poorest and sickest Americans, kicking millions off of insurance coverage. In addition, the bill would have barred Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursements.
On Monday Speaker Ryan announced that they will continue to push for healthcare reform in 2017, causing many progressive advocates to fear that Republicans could reintroduce a similar bill to the AHCA after garnering more party support.
Media Resources: CNN 3/25/17; Feminist Majority Foundation 3/10/17; Washington Post 3/27/17