For the second time in less than a decade, a president and Congress are moving to upend parts of the American health-care system.
As early as Thursday, the House is expected to take up the Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act. The legislation is intended to supplant the 2010 Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — which requires most Americans to get health insurance, imposes rules to ensure more comprehensive and equitable coverage, and broadens Medicaid to include more lower-income people.
The GOP plan seeks to end the ACA’s penalty on individuals who violate its insurance mandate and would instead try to motivate people to maintain coverage by letting insurers charge more when someone lets a health plan lapse. The bill also would profoundly transform how the government helps pay for Medicaid and would stop the generous funding the ACA gives states for people in the Medicaid expansion.
The Washington Post asked readers how the proposed changes would affect them or someone they knew. In barely two days, nearly 1,200 replies came in from every state but New Hampshire, Delaware and South Dakota.
Although some blamed the ACA for making their health insurance options worse — or more expensive — others criticized the GOP for not working to fix what ails the current law or for rushing such “haphazard” legislation.
The replies exposed the political and economic fault lines of many issues. Republicans were accused of caring far more about the wealthy than about the health-care system. The name-calling cut both ways, though. One Tennessee man angrily asked: “You want me to feel sorry for some slacker lamenting the loss of Obamacare and its impact on his addiction?”
The Post’s query went out in early March. Since then, the Congressional Budget Office has projected that the House GOP plan would sharply increase the number of uninsured Americans. Conservative Republicans have tried to push the Medicaid program even more to the right. And this week, House leaders maneuvered so that the bill might direct more money to help older Americans not yet eligible for Medicare.
With the debate continuing to roil much of the country, The Post remains interested in hearing from readers. So we repeat our call-out here.