Statement of Dr. Diana Zuckerman, NCHR President, Regarding the American Health Care Act

March 9, 2017

health insuranceThe goal of the American Health Care Act is to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with something better, but instead it represents a giant step backward for health care for all Americans.  This proposed plan will cover far fewer Americans than the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and insurance will pay for less and cost more.  The proposed tax credits and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) will not begin to provide adequate health insurance for Americans covered under the ACA, particularly low-income patients.

A substantial number of people who had health insurance for the first time under ACA will lose it.  The proposed 30% surcharge for those who let their insurance lapse is an insufficient incentive for healthy people to purchase insurance.  Since the surcharge is the same for patients whose insurance lapses for 2 months or 20 years, it actually discourages healthy patients from buying health insurance until they have substantial medical expenses. The lack of healthy patients in the insurance pool means higher premiums and deductibles for all of us.  And, as  more uninsured patients end up in hospitals needing expensive medical care for cancer, heart disease, or other serious illnesses, that uncompensated care means higher hospital costs for all of us.

The very obvious shortcomings of the proposed TrumpCare bill are the reasons why hospital organizations, the American Medical Association (AMA), AARP, and many insurers are all against this legislation.  It would disrupt the marketplace, create confusion and uncertainty, and reduce or strip health care coverage from millions of Americans.

Meanwhile, the bill would provide tax breaks for the wealthy at the expense of those losing health coverage.  The legislation also would serve to severely reduce Medicaid benefits over time, by eventually turning the Medicaid coverage now provided into block grants to states, many of which might spend the funds on issues other than health care.