Congressional Committees Release Text Of Obamacare Repeal & Replacement Bills

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The piece of legislation that has been the hottest ticket in D.C. — the GOP effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — is beginning to take shape, with the release by the House Committee On Energy & Commerce and the House Ways & Means Committee of their proposals to undo the healthcare reform legislation.

First out was the 66-page bill containing the House Commerce Committee’s input [PDF] on what is currently being called The American Health Care Act.

The House Ways and Means Committee has also finished its draft of related repeal legislation, and has released a bullet-pointed breakdown of the bill [PDF].

Among the key points being stressed by the committees:

• Nullifies the individual mandate — the requirement that most people have some sort of health insurance — by reducing the penalty for lack of coverage to $0.

• Nullifies the employer mandate — the requirement that larger employers provide qualifying coverage to full-time workers — by reducing the penalty for failing to comply to $0.

• Still allows young people to stay on their parents’ health plans until the age of 26

• Preserves the prohibition against insurers charging more or denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, but adds a continuous coverage surcharge: Starting with open enrollment for 2019 insurance plans, anyone who has gone at least 63 days at a time without coverage during the previous 12 months will be assessed a 30% late-enrollment surcharge on top of their base premium.

• Make over-the-counter medications eligible for purchase through tax-advantaged savings plans like flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts.

• Remove the limits on annual contributions to flexible spending accounts.

• Provide a refundable tax credit of between $2,000 to $4,000 to individuals who do not have access to government health insurance programs or an offer from any employer; are a citizen, national or qualified alien of the United States (and are not incarcerated) who purchase qualifying insurance on their own.

• This tax credit is based on age and income. Individuals making under $75,000 ($150,000 for joint filers) under 30 receive up to $2,000; 30-39, up to $2,500; 40-49, up to $3,000; 50-59, up to $3,500; 60 and over, up to $4,000.

• However, the credits are additive for a family and capped at a total of $14,000. The credit phases out by $100 for every $1,000 for those with income higher than the thresholds.

• Increase the limit on Health Savings Accounts so that they are equal to the sum of the annual deductible and out-of-pocket expenses permitted under a high deductible health plan.

• Repeals the 10% tax on indoor tanning services.

• Repeals all appropriations for the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provides funding to a variety of public health concerns, like Alzheimer’s research, diabetes prevention, heart disease prevention, anti-smoking initiatives, immunization, scientific support for state and local officials to detect and respond to outbreaks, and much more.

• A one-year freeze on mandatory funding — from Medicaid and others — to “prohibited entities.” “A prohibited entity is one that meets the following criteria: it is designated as a non-profit by the Internal Revenue Service; it is an essential community provider primarily engaged in family planning and reproductive health services; it provides abortions in cases that do not meet theHyde amendment exception for federal payment; and it received over $350 million in federal and state Medicaid dollars in fiscal year 2014.”

• Allows Medicaid expansion to continue to enroll people until January 2020, at which point there will be a “freeze.”

• No cap on employer-sponsored coverage.