The AHCA Passes The House of Representatives

The AHCA Passes The House of Representatives

On May 4, 2017, H.R. 1628, or The American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA), passed the US House of Representatives, 217 to 213[1]. This success for House Republicans comes after a failure to vote on a similar bill at the end of March. While the main details behind this new bill are similar to the previous bill, there are some significant differences. First, states would be able to choose not to provide some of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) “essential health benefits”, which include prescription drug coverage, doctor’s services, pregnancy and childbirth care, and mental health services.[2] Further, states would be able to opt-out of requiring identical premiums for those with and without pre-existing conditions. There would also be a new $15 billion “fund for risk sharing” to help states lower premiums.[3]

Next in the legislation process, the bill will be brought to the Senate for debate and potentially a vote. While the AHCA passed the House, there is no guarantee the more moderate Senate will pass the House version of the bill without modifications. Indeed, if the modified bill passes the Senate, the new version must also be approved by the House.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) generally reviews bills and provides a thorough description of the monetary implications of them before a house or senate vote.[5] However, in the passing of this new bill, the CBO has not had adequate time to prepare their report. While the Senate might hastily pass a similar version, when the two versions are reconciled, the CBO must have completed their work. This report will likely contain similar conclusions to the previous version of the AHCA.[6]

References

[1] “American Health Care Act of 2017 (H.R. 1628),” GovTrack.us, accessed May 8, 2017, https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr1628.

[2] “Essential Health Benefits - HealthCare.gov Glossary,” HealthCare.gov, accessed May 8, 2017, https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/essential-health-benefits/.

[3] “American Health Care Act of 2017 (H.R. 1628).”

[4] Ibid.

[5] Vann R. Newkirk II, “How Does Congressional Budget Office Scoring Work?,” The Atlantic, May 4, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/cbo-interview-ahca-effects/525420/.

[6] Vann R. Newkirk II, “What’s in the Health-Care Bill the House Just Passed?,” The Atlantic, May 4, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/what-we-know-about-the-american-health-care-act/525426/

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