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House Committees Begin Process to Repeal “Obamacare”

This week, the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees approved H. Res. 154 and legislative recommendations to repeal and replace P.L. 111-148, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare. The Ways and Means Committee approved its portion of the recommendations on March 9 by a vote of 23-16; the Energy and Commerce Committee also approved, 31-23, its portion on March 9.

The draft legislation, known as the American Health Care Act, would repeal the mandates that require individuals to have, and employers to provide, health insurance or face penalties. Subsidies provided under the ACA to help individuals would be replaced by refundable tax credits. The tax credits could not be used to purchase insurance that covers abortions.

The ACA expanded Medicaid coverage to include adults whose incomes are up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level and gave states expanded authority to determine eligibility for Medicaid; the measure would repeal those provisions of the ACA. Starting in FY2020, states would transition to a per capita funding model, targeted toward women entitled to medical assistance for breast and cervical cancer, pregnant women, children enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other groups.

Among other provisions, the bill would establish a one-year moratorium on state Medicaid payments to nonprofit organizations that perform abortions, specifically Planned Parenthood.

Like the ACA, insurers could not deny coverage to individuals with preexisting health conditions; dependents could remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26. The legislation would require “continuous coverage,” and would penalize individuals who go without insurance for 63 days or more.

The measure would repeal funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund. The Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 114-113) allocated $1 billion in FY2016 for public health programs housed mostly at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Community Health Centers program would receive an additional $422 million in FY2017. The current funding level for the program is $1.492 billion.

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