Politics

How Republicans Want to Replace Obamacare

After years of wringing their hands about repealing the Affordable Care Act, Republicans in Congress finally have a proposal to dismantle President Obama’s signature legislation. Unfortunately for the American people, that plan redistributes benefits from the poor to the wealthy.

A policy brief regarding the plan from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) shows that the ACA replacement would eliminate tax credits based on income that benefited middle-income people and disincentivize states from providing free insurance to lower-income people near or below the poverty line through Medicaid.

Instead, the plan would create flat rate tax credits for all Americans who don’t get insurance through their employer based on age. A benefit of age-based tax credits for health insurance is that a flat rate tax would treat the economic realities of the super-wealthy and those living in poverty the same. In short, in all likelihood, it wouldn’t substantially help the poor be able to afford their healthcare needs.

The plan would also make Health Savings Accounts, untaxed accounts where people can save money for medical treatments, more flexible and allow people to put more money in them. However, again, this would largely benefit the wealthy and simply be a more indirect way to pay for medical expenses out-of-pocket.

As is, the plan does little to change some of the most beloved benefits of the ACA, such as protections for those with preexisting conditions and allowing children 26 years and under to stay on their parents insurance. But that could change.

As any advocate of healthcare reform knows, a plan for health care is not a bill. Moreover, an unsigned bill is not a law. Republicans in Congress will likely have a long road ahead before they can jam legislation that enacts these conservative reforms, in addition to potential amendments, through the Senate where Democrats are likely to vigorously oppose it.

If Republicans prevail, as the bill is, the middle- and low-income people will lose the most.