Senate GOP leaders on Thursday finally released their secret health-care reform bill, which would repeal Obamacare taxes, restructure subsidies to insurance customers, and both phase out Medicaid's expansion program and cap Medicaid spending.
Republicans plan to bring the controversial bill that was drafted in secret to a quick vote next week, but face potentially fatal opposition to it from several members of their own caucus.
The 142-page bill, if passed into law, would sharply reduce financial aid that currently helps millions of people obtain health coverage, while at the same time offering a tax break to primarily wealthy Americans to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. And it would loosen rules in a way that could lead to states allowing insurers to offer less-generous health plans.
The bill would repeal, retroactive to the beginning of 2016, the Obamacare rule requiring most Americans to have some form of health coverage or pay a tax penalty fine. That repeal is expected to sharply increase the number of people who don't have insurance, which could in turn lead insurers to raise premiums.
And it would repeal, retroactively to the beginning of 2016, the "employer mandate," which requires large employers to offer health insurance to workers or be fined.
The bill also would continue for at least two years to offer reimbursements to health insurance companies for subsidies that reduce out-of-pocket costs for low income customers of Obamacare plans. But those subsidies would end in 2020, which would increase deductibles and other out-of-pocket health expenses for millions of customers.
The federal government's share of funding for Medicaid, which is jointly run with individual states, would fall over the course of seven years to end up at around 57 percent of the cost of that program, which offers health coverage to the poor.
Under Obamacare, the federal government had guaranteed that its funding for adults newly eligible for Medicaid because of the Affordable Care Act would fall to no lower than 90 percent of their costs. That expansion program would begin being phased out in 2021, and fully repealed by three years later.