House Republicans are floating a new amendment to their health care bill, one that would likely cause even more Americans to lose coverage than the last version.
The American Health Care Act that House Speaker Paul Ryan introduced into the House last February dismantled parts of Obamacare. It also left popular provisions, like a ban on preexisting conditions and the requirement that insurers cover things like maternity care, intact.
This new amendment, offered by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), would allow states to waive out of those key Obamacare regulations too.
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In particular, this amendment would allow some states to charge higher premiums to Americans with preexisting conditions. States would also have the choice to opt out of the Affordable Care Act's essential health benefits requirement, as well as the possibility of charging older Americans significantly higher premiums.
Leaders of the staunchly conservative Freedom Caucus have reportedly endorsed this proposal. That makes sense: This amendment would take apart key Obamacare regulations the group has spent years rallying against.
But this amendment doesn't do much at all to assuage concerns about the older proposals. While it meets many of the demands of the party's far-right wing — namely, the deregulation of the individual insurance market — it does nothing to address concerns about massive coverage loss. Instead, it likely makes those problems worse.
What's more, it comes at a time when the specific Obamacare provisions that Republicans want to dismantle are proving the law's most popular. A Washington Post/ABC News Pollreleased Tuesday found that 70 percent of voters support requiring states to protect people with preexisting conditions, and 61 percent want the federal government to require insurers to cover a comprehensive benefits package with maternity care and mental health services.
"It's pretty frustrating to see they've worked so hard to come up with another Rube Goldberg–type solution," says Craig Garthwaite, a health economist at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business.