The American Health Care Act


Recently Republicans narrowly passed a bill in the House of Representatives to repeal and replace The Affordable Care Act, often known as Obamacare. According to Time, this bill would “gut health coverage for millions of Americans while delivering tax cuts to the rich.”

The bill is called The American Health Care Act also known as “Trumpcare”, and it had been changed in several ways since it was pulled from a House vote in March as it had failed to receive enough support for it. In making changes, Republican leaders attempted to appeal to both conservatives who felt the previous version of the bill was too similar to Obamacare and moderates who feared people losing coverage.

However, lawmakers voted without a prediction on how the bill would affect the number of insured, premium costs, the federal budget and other measures. The last projection of the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would increase the number of overall uninsured people by 24 million by 2026.

The increase in the number of uninsured people would be the result of the bill rolling back protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Pre-existing conditions are health conditions that an individual develops before one’s health insurance came into effect. “Under current law, health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover you or change you more just because you have a ‘pre-existing condition’” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The American Health Care Act would change that, stipulating that states can allow insurers to charge people more for health insurance if states meet certain conditions such as setting up high-risk insurance pools. According to Time, high-risk insurance pools are “essentially separate health care markets for the sickest Americans” and that the Affordable Care Act prohibiting insurers from charging people more for coverage based on health status, age and race led to a large decrease in them, benefiting people with pre-existing conditions enormously.

While the Trumpcare website claims the AHCA will not eliminate coverage for pre-existing conditions and “Trumpcare will require all health insurers to cover people who apply regardless of their medical history,” critics have noted that there are a large number of pre-existing conditions that could be used to deny people coverage under the AHCA such as:

  • Alcohol abuse/drug abuse with recent treatment
  • Mental disorders such as bipolar disorder or an eating disorder
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Organ transplant
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Pregnant or expecting parent
  • Parkinson’s disease

Other conditions that could make it more difficult to purchase an insurance plan are:

  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Ear infections
  • Hypertension
  • Joint injuries
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Tonsillitis
  • Urinary tract infections

These are some of the conditions Business Insider lists.

CNN also reports that before Obamacare, some insurance companies used to consider medical treatment related to domestic violence and rape a pre-existing condition and only some states have banned that practice. With the AHCA weakening protections for those with pre-existing conditions, survivors fear the way insurance companies handle pre-existing conditions could hurt them and cause them to face higher costs for insurance plans.

Nevertheless, the bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate where a handful of Republican senators immediately rejected it, indicating that they may start work on a bill of their own the New York Times and NBC reports. “We’re not under any deadline, so we’re going to take our time,” Senator John Cornyn of Texas said. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also criticized members of the House for rushing to vote for the bill without waiting for a Congressional Budget Office analysis or giving members a chance to add amendments or review the bill’s text. “I’m not so sure this is good civics here,” Graham said.