On March 6, House Republican leaders officially unveiled the American Health Care Reform Act, a concise legislative package that would both repeal major portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) — widely known as Obamacare — and replace them with a variety of new health care policy concepts.
The House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees separately released legislative language dealing with policy concepts that pertain to their specific legislative jurisdiction. In addition to formal bill language, section-by-section summaries were submitted by Ways and Means and by Energy and Commerce committees. Both committees held legislative “mark-ups” on Wednesday, March 8. The markup process provides opportunities for committee members to make formal statements for and against the proposed bill and to formally introduce amendments.
Although Democrats will do their utmost to derail the bills’ progress, the ACR believes Republican amendments will attempt to alter or eliminate the legislation’s more controversial, such as proposals to repeal current Medicaid expansion policies or to provide health care tax credits in lieu of ACA subsidies to low and middle income Americans. At the conclusion of the markups, it is expected that these separate bills will be combined into a single larger legislative proposal.
In the political sphere, the bills face opposition from staunch conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus and House Republican Study Committee for allegedly perpetuating an entitlement-ridden, big government approach to the Republican plan to repeal and replace PPACA.
In the medical sphere, the American Medical Association announced its opposition and the American Academy of Family Physicians expressed serious concerns about the American Health Care Reform Act and its potential for vastly reducing health care access and insurance coverages that PPACA secured by for many Americans.
The House Republican leadership hopes the final, consolidated version of the American Health Care Act will be passed no later than April 7, the start of a scheduled two-week House District work period. If the current House leadership’s timeline holds, the Senate would then begin debate of the House-passed legislation shortly after April 24 when its members return from their April recess. The Senate has not announced its own timeline.
ACR’s Government Relations Office is closely monitoring all legislative efforts pertaining to PPACA. Additional analysis will be posted on the ACR website and future issues of Advocacy in Action eNews.