New GOP alternative to Obamacare warrants cynicism for some

A lot could change with healthcare coverage depending on how the King v. Burwell case turns out in the near future. Potentially, the ruling could overturn the section of the ACA that provides tax credits to people who are getting coverage from insurance purchased through the federal exchange. That’s more than 9 million people. With […]

A lot could change with healthcare coverage depending on how the King v. Burwell case turns out in the near future. Potentially, the ruling could overturn the section of the ACA that provides tax credits to people who are getting coverage from insurance purchased through the federal exchange. That’s more than 9 million people.

With the new Obamacare alternative plan proposal from Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) in place, tentatively, many Americans must look at how this replacement could affect them and their families.

Richard Kirsch, senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and a senior adviser to USAction, contributed to The Hill Monday to explain why a replacement plan warrants cynicism.

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For one thing, the GOP plan takes away coverage for a range of needs like prescription drugs, maternity care and preventative care, which the ACA requires. In addition to that, people will be able to purchase insurance regulated by other states, so “insurance companies would be able to hawk barebones plans written in states that have skimpy rules on what medical care must be covered,” Kirsch writes.

The new skimpier plans would result in higher deductibles and co-payments, which would inevitably result in some people avoiding going to a doctor. In addition to that, seniors will be charged five times as much as younger people, as opposed to three times currently.

“The GOP will tout that the skinny benefits will lead to lower premiums,” Kirsch writes. “But what matters to people is what they pay for coverage after the tax credits on the ACA. The GOP plan will eliminate them entirely for middle-class people who earn more than three times the federal poverty level, or $60,000 for a family of four. And it reduces the tax credits for people who earn up to three times the poverty level.”

One of the major issues, which Obamacare was designed to prevent, is that many more people will end up uninsured.

The cuts in tax credits, along with the repeal of the requirement that larger employers pay for coverage, will mean fewer people will be able to afford insurance. And millions of Americans would lose their coverage because the Republican plan repeals the expansion of Medicaid. The GOP replacement — allowing people who make less than the poverty level to buy into Medicaid — will price a huge portion of people newly covered by Medicaid out of the market. The GOP plan also appears to support Medicaid block grants, which translate into huge cuts and fewer people covered over time.

The GOP plan seems to be proud to say that pre-existing conditions won’t be an issue – that part will stay the same. But the catch is, you are only covered despite pre-existing conditions if you haven’t had an gap in being insured. So let’s say a person loses coverage because they can’t afford it, for one of the reasons above, and then later finds a new plan, pre-existing conditions are back on the table and can drive up premium prices.

For the time being, a lot remains up in the air. But should the GOP plan eventually be put in place, many Americans who have finally been able to have health insurance could end up back in a bind.