A Health Care Update from Congressman Blackburn

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Washington, May 4, 2017 | comments
Earlier today, my colleagues and I voted in favor of the American Health Care Act, which will finally repeal the burdensome Affordable Care Act. Many of you have expressed your concerns about the rising costs that have ensued after 8 years of impractical legislation. That’s why we’ve taken action to get rid of Obamacare.

Here's more on the American Health Care Act and why we passed it:

It will dismantle the Obamacare taxes. These taxes have hurt job creators, increased premium costs, and limited options for patients and health care providers—including taxes on prescription drugs, over-the counter medications, health-insurance premiums, and medical devices.

It eliminates the individual and employer mandate penalties. These penalties have forced millions of workers, families, and job creators into expensive, Obamacare plans that they don’t want and cannot afford. Health care cannot be forced as a one-size fits all model. We must allow more flexibility to states and better patient options by providing health coverage that is truly affordable and meets each individual’s unique needs.

It helps young adults access health insurance and stabilize the marketplace. The AHCA allows dependents to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until they are 26. And, the MacArthur amendment ensures that states cannot waive this provision.

It guarantees coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions and bans health insurers from charging a patient with pre-existing conditions higher premiums as long as they maintain continuous coverage, or sign up for new coverage within 63 days of exiting a previous insurance plan. And no matter what, insurance companies cannot deny you coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

This bill contains numerous protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The MacArthur amendment gives flexibility to states to tackle premium prices. There will be a very strict process in place to obtain the waiver and it will only be given to states with high-risk pools and other protections in place. For states seeking a waiver, the Upton amendment provides an additional $8 billion to allow people with pre-existing conditions who haven’t maintained continuous coverage to acquire affordable care. States may not waive guarantee issue, gender discrimination, the age 26 provision, or annual and lifetime limits.

It establishes a Patient and State Stability Fund and Federal Invisible Risk Sharing Program. This will provide states with $130 billion to design programs with will meet the unique needs of their patient populations, help low-income Americans afford health care, and provide a backstop safety net for Americans with pre-existing conditions. This includes $15 billion specifically toward mental health and substance abuse and newborn care.

It modernizes and strengthens Medicaid. The AHCA will transition Medicaid back to the states so that they can better serve the patients most in need. It prohibits states from expanding into the current broken Medicaid system. It maximizes state flexibility. It gives states the choice between a per capita allotment or a traditional block grant and provides the option for states to implement work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

It protects current Medicaid beneficiaries. Anyone receiving health care under the expansion will continue to receive the enhanced state match. It ensures the rug isn’t pulled from underneath any able-bodied patient as he or she transitions to other coverage, like a plan purchased with refundable tax credits. The focus is re-directing able-bodied patients to private health care so that Medicaid can be refocused on helping the most vulnerable.

It empowers individuals and families. The AHCA will empower people to spend health care dollars the way they want and need by enhancing and expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s), which are tax-free health care savings accounts for Americans with high-deductible plans. Americans will be able to contribute nearly double to their HSA and utilize the savings for more situations. HSA’s have to become a focal point of health care reform as they are critical for helping Americans save and spend their health care dollars more wisely.

It helps Americans access affordable, quality health care. Americans will have access to a monthly tax credit—between $2,000- $14,000 a year—for low- and middle-income individuals and families who don’t receive insurance through work or a government program. Americans can use this tax credit to purchase private, quality coverage of their choice. This credit cannot be used to purchase insurance plans that cover elective abortion.

It equalizes the tax treatment of health care regardless of where you buy it and helps create a vibrant individual market. These credits are longstanding conservative policy goals.

It restores pro-life principles and expands women’s access to health services. Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country, will be defunded for one year by blocking more than $500 million of federal dollars. The AHCA will redirect Planned Parenthood dollars to community health centers, which vastly outnumber Planned Parenthood. Pro-life organizations supporting the American Health Care Act include: National Right to Life, Susan B. Anthony List, Family Research Council, and Concerned Women for America.

It does not give Congress special privileges. Under the McSally Amendment, Members of Congress and congressional staff are not exempt from the State waiver provisions of the American Health Care Act. We follow the same procedures for obtaining, paying for, and utilizing our health care as you.

It ensures everyone has access to affordable, quality health care, without forcing people to buy insurance. Rumors have flowed that 24 million people will be kicked off health care. That is simply not true. That estimate failed to take into account other planned legislative and administrative actions, which will help bring down costs and expand coverage.
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