Congressional Democrats Feb. 16 called for adding a public health insurance option to Obamacare markets and making subsidies more generous.
Republican Policy Brief
“There’s going to be a serious attack on Medicaid,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) told Families USA.
A policy brief circulated by Republicans includes repealing the ACA’s Medicaid expansion while funding the traditional health-care program for the poor with a per capita allotment and giving states the option of receiving federal Medicaid funding through block grants.
Turning Medicaid into a block grant to states in the past has meant funding cuts of 20 percent to 30 percent, “and most of the time there’s no requirement to use it on health care,” Stabenow said. The issue is a “very serious point of debate.”
Stabenow called for instituting a public option, publicly funded health insurance, in areas where there is little insurance competition, or enacting “Medicare for all, which is the other option.” That would expand the health-care program for seniors to everyone.
The Republican policy brief called for providing “state innovation grants” to fund high-risk pools for people with complex conditions. Before the ACA was enacted, 34 states had the high-risk pools, the brief said. The Better Way health-care plan of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also called for using the state innovation grants to give states flexibility to lower the cost of care for high-need patients.
Returning to the system of state high-risk pools would mean “sick folks are segregated from the rest of the individual market and offered expensive and incomplete coverage,” Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said at the Families USA conference.
In the past, many people couldn’t afford coverage in the high-risk pools, they faced a long waiting period to get coverage and “losses were so great that states often had to inject hundreds of millions” in state funds, he said.
Franken called for a public option and for making the ACA’s tax credit subsidies more generous.
Former Obama Officials Criticize Republican Plan
At a separate press briefing Feb. 16, three former Obama administration officials also attacked Republican proposals.
“None of the ideas we’re hearing would come anywhere close to replacing the ACA on coverage, quality or affordability, much less make things better,” Andy Slavitt, former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said.
A vote by the conservative House Freedom Caucus earlier in the week for immediate repeal of the ACA appears to be “DOA [dead on arrival] in the Senate,” Slavitt said. Many Republican governors in states that have expanded Medicaid under the ACA, hospital executives and patient advocates don’t want to lose the coverage, Slavitt said.
“The Trump administration inherited a healthy market, and uncertainty over the mandate and repeal, along with actions like taking down advertising and outreach, are causing serious self-inflicted instability,” Slavitt said. The uncertainty “is making it very difficult for health plans to participate in the exchange,” he said.
Democrats Hit Back at Republican Health-Care Proposals. (17, February 17). Retrieved February 19, 2017, from https://www.bna.com/democrats-hit-back-n57982084012/