What Changed in the New Health Care Bill
A revised version of the the Senate’s proposed health care bill was released on Thursday. It includes three key changes to the much-anticipated bill known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act, but it also leaves in place several important components.
How Did the Senate Bill Change?
Some of the changes reflected in the new bill include:
- An amendment introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX.)
The amendment would allow insurance companies to sell plans that are exempt from Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare) regulations, as long as the provider also sells plans that do abide by those regulations. Such rules include mandates that protect coverage for maternity care, mental health care and health insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
- The individual mandate
The individual mandate in the ACA, which required every adult to have health insurance or else face a tax penalty, would be eliminated. Experts believe eliminating the mandate will lead to millions more Americans electing to live without health insurance.
- Increased efforts to fight America’s opioid epidemic
The new bill would include $45 billion to be allocated toward fighting the ongoing opioid epidemic. Earlier versions of the bill had allocated just $2 billion toward the effort. The increase comes as a response to opposition from senators such as Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, who lobbied for increased spending in this area.
Primary Aspects of the Health Care Bill That Remain
While some items in the new bill are different from earlier drafts, other things stayed the same. These include:
- Curbing Medicaid expansion
Efforts to curb Medicaid expansion, which was included in earlier versions of the bill and met with some opposition, remain. The previous version of the bill was set to reduce Medicaid expansion by $772 billion over the next 10 years, a number that is likely to remain consistent in the new version of the Senate health care bill.
- Taxes on the wealthy
A pair of taxes rooted in Obamacare would remain intact. Those include a 0.9 percent Medicare surtax and a 3.8 percent tax on investment income for higher-earning households.
- Defunding of Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood would be banned from Medicaid funding for one year under the new bill in an effort to defund the program.
There is no official word on when the Senate may vote on the proposed bill, but because of continued Republican opposition, a vote may never take place at all.
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Christian Worstell is a health care and policy writer for MedicareSupplement.com. He has written hundreds of articles helping people better understand their Medicare coverage options.