Commentary

Obamacare Bones Remain: House-Passed AHCA Is Still Gov’t-Controlled Health Care

By Twila Brase | May 4, 2017 | 3:58pm EDT
U.S. House passed the amended American Health Care Act on May 04, 2017 by a vote along party lines, with 217 Republicans voting for its passage and 212 Democrats opposing. Two congressmen did not participate in the vote. (Screenshot)

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the amended American Health Care Act (AHCA), but before the bill goes to the U.S. Senate, Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF, www.cchfreedom.org), is reminding lawmakers and Americans alike that AHCA is still government-controlled health care.

The American Health Care Act is not repeal—and the American people wanted full repeal of Obamacare. Under AHCA, the federal government is still in control of health care, and states must ask permission to opt out of Obamacare’s price controls for health insurance premiums and mandated benefits. Health plans will remain in control as well. The prohibition on catastrophic indemnity plans remains in place. AHCA does not return health freedom to Americans.

State legislatures must decide to submit waiver applications, and exemption from certain Obamacare insurance mandates is not automatic. Many states may not choose to do the politically difficult work of ending these mandates, despite their costs, because permission is granted for no more than 10 years. Brase emphasized that Dr. Tom Price will not always serve as the Secretary of HHS, and the next secretary may be much less willing to grant state waivers of Obamacare requirements.

Now, with the House passage of AHCA, it is likely that Republicans will “own” everything remaining about Obamacare. As they claim credit for “repeal and replace,” the public will view everything that happens (as a result of not actually repealing the law) as the fault of Republicans.

The amended AHCA does not expand competition and it does not eliminate federal control. It is essentially Obamacare without the taxes, with limited freedom for states to do what Congress can’t seem to do, and with new mandates, penalties and billions of dollars of taxpayer-funded subsidies, without any guarantee of lower costs, greater choices or broader networks. Today may be a political win for Republicans, but it is not a “win” for health freedom.

Twila Brase is president and co-founder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF, www.cchfreedom.org), a Minnesota-based national organization dedicated to preserving patient-centered health care and protecting patient and privacy rights. Celebrating its 20th year, CCHF exists to protect health care choices and patient privacy.

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