GOP Senators introduce plan to empower states by replacing Obamacare
Under the act, states can choose to continue operating with Obamacare and its mandates or select or design an alternative with or without federal assistance.
Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) introduced the Patient Freedom Act of 2017, describing it as a “comprehensive replacement plan for Obamacare”
In a statement given to Patient Daily, Capito said she has spoken with small business owners who have absorbed the cost of increased insurance, only to see their employees receive less coverage.
"I have also heard from those in my state who have real concerns about what this transition will mean for them. This is especially true for those who receive coverage through Medicaid," Capito said. "As we move forward, I am working to balance each of these needs, and ensure access in West Virginia and across the nation to affordable, quality health care."
Most importantly, Capito said, the Patient Freedom Act of 2017 would remove Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations.
"It provides states the opportunity and funding to ensure those currently covered by the Medicaid expansion are protected and retain their health care coverage," she said. "It returns authority to the states, and provides more health care choices and better insurance options to individuals and families."
The proposal repeals federal mandates introduced by the ACA, including the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and the actuarial value requirements that put plans into one of four categories. The bill repeals the age band requirements that the senators said drive up costs for young people, as well as the benefit mandates.
It keeps some protections included in the ACA, including prohibitions on annual and lifetime limits, prohibition of pre-existing condition exclusions, and prohibitions on discrimination.
The bill also reserves guaranteed issue, guaranteed renewability and allows young adults to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26, as well as preserving coverage for mental health and substance use disorders.
Crucially, it will give states three options: reintroduce Obamacare, enact a new market-based system with federal help, or design an alternative without federal assistance.
"We have been stressing the importance of making sure we have a replacement plan ready to go with the repeal of Obamacare, in order to ensure that no one sees a gap in their health care coverage,” Cassidy said in a statement. “With the introduction of the Patient Freedom Act of 2017, I believe we now have that plan. President Trump has said that he wants to have health care coverage for all under the replacement plan. The Patient Freedom Act does this and more.”
Cassidy said the option allowing states to keep ObamaCare was created to generate support from Senate Democrats. The bill will need 60 votes, and Cassidy said he believes enough Democrats will support the bill.
“Our current health care system is under considerable stress and will collapse if Congress does not act.” Collins said in a statement. “The ACA has been in full effect for three years, yet nearly 30 million people still do not have health insurance coverage. Those who do have coverage are experiencing huge spikes in premium costs, deductibles, and co-pays. Simply put, doing nothing is not an option.”
Isakson said the Patient Freedom Act encompasses the changes that Americans are demanding so they can once again have choices for more affordable health insurance.