Right before the House vote on the new health care legislation, the Senate approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill that will finance the government until September and prevent a government shutdown. The approval of the spending bill allowed the House to safely pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA).
While House Speaker Paul Ryan is hopeful that the Senate can pass a bill meant to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a couple months, this is highly unlikely. The Senate, which moves more slowly than the House, will now begin work on creating a health care plan that will be acceptable by all the factions of the Republican party. This could mean that the Senate will need to write a new bill all together.
Because the members of the GOP are divided on the issue of a new health care bill it may prove to be a challenging task to pass it. Furthermore, the Senate needs a 51-vote majority to pass the bill, which allows them only two defections. The Senate is expected to take until August to push a bill through with the needed support. When the Senate produces a new or updated bill it will return to the House for a vote.
Until the Senate and House agree on a new health care bill, the ACA remains in place. Thus, those selling and buying health insurance will be adhering to the rules and regulations already in place.
On May 4, Congress approved legislation to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The latest version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) rolls back the expansion of Medicaid and allows states to opt out of covering patients with pre-existing conditions. The bill now faces uncertainty in the Senate.
The proposed AHCA would end Medicaid’s status as an open-ended entitlement. The bill will also repeal taxes on the super rich, insurers and drug companies. Furthermore, under the new bill, states could adjust coverage for essential medical services such as maternity and emergency care. The latest AHCA seems to be a patchwork of provisions.
The bill will most likely be amended by the various Republican factions within the Senate. In addition, the Senate Republicans have been working on their own version of the health care bill, which will consider the ideas already in the House bill. Once the Senate passes its new or updated version of the AHCA, that bill will return to the House for another vote.
However, the biggest unanswered question with any replacement of the ACA is that no one can calculate how many people would be covered under a new health care bill. By May 22 the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will release its report on the cost and potential coverage of the new AHCA. The analysis of this bill will be complicated by the fact that it leaves a lot to the states. It will be up to the Senate Republicans to consider the implications of the upcoming CBO report.