By: Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO
"If the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was worse than the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the initial Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) was worse than AHCA, then this new version of the BCRA – released yesterday – is worst of all.
"It retains all the provisions of the original BCRA that frightened so many people: significantly higher insurance costs for older people, huge cuts to Medicaid, penalties for those who lose their insurance when they try to sign up again, higher average deductibles for everyone, and no guarantees of minimum payouts by insurers for those with chronic conditions, including mental illnesses.
"It also reduces subsidies offered to the middle class to help offset the cost of insurance, and eliminates these tax credits entirely for individuals making more than $42,210 a year, or couples earning more than $56,840.
"Meanwhile, it retains tax cuts for tanning salons.
"Worst of all, it incorporates language from Senator Ted Cruz that could literally flood the market in every state with completely unregulated health insurance products. Marketed under the illusion of “lower insurance rates,” these plans would not have to cover mental illnesses, cancers, or any other chronic conditions – or people who have ever had one of these conditions. They would not have to reimburse providers at any reasonable rate. They could pay out as little in benefits as they wanted, and could be cancelled at any time. They would force people who signed up for them and thought they were getting a bargain to pay thousands more each year in out-of-pocket costs, while forcing everyone with a chronic condition into a single health insurance program.
"This new proposal is opposed by insurance companies, providers, advocates, and an overwhelming majority of the public. This should tell us something: it is time for Congress to act in a bipartisan way to address the health and mental health care needs of all of us, not just unrelated enterprises like tanning salons."