On Thursday, Senate Republicans released their version of a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," and proposed a new alternative for government-funded healthcare in the United States. The new bill introduces massive cuts to Medicaid programs, would create a new system of federal tax credits and would give states more autonomy deciding whether or not to drop the benefits that are currently included within Obamacare.
Support for the Bill
The senate bill is called the "Better Care Reconciliation Act," and has a lot of support from Republicans. It will repeal the taxes and employer penalties that are associated with the Affordable Care Act, so employers will no longer be fined for failing to comply with the individual mandates within the law. The bill will also move the implementation of the "Cadillac tax" on expensive, employer health plans from 2025 to 2026. All of the proposed tax cuts will mainly benefit higher-income American families. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) urged the passage of the bill because it will prevent sharp premium increases through the proposed tax cuts.
Criticism of the Bill
Several insurance companies, politicians, and medical boards have vocalized their dissent about the proposed bill. The American Association of Medical Colleges released a statement expressing overt concern that the repeal will "....leave millions of people without health coverage, and others with only bare bones plans." Governor Tom Wolf (D-PA) believes that the new bill will be "devastating" because it carries sharper cuts to medicaid programs. And, former President Obama uncharacteristically called out his former colleagues in a long message on Facebook, urging them to look past partisanship and protect healthcare rights.
How It Affects You
Previously, college students were covered by their parents' insurance under the Affordable Care Act until they were 26 years old. Young adults will still be able to stay on their parents' plan if their families purchase private insurance. However, college students with parents who buy insurance under Obamacare programs will most likely experience changes to their coverage.
The new bill also would also cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood that many lower-income college students rely on for birth control, cancer screenings, abortions, STD screening and other types of medical care. This bill generally prohibit consumers from using tax credits for the services that are offered by family planning programs. Planned Parenthood will also experience a one year Medicaid funding freeze.
All in all, the new version of the ACA repeal introduces major tax cuts and will no longer require businesses to ensure employee coverage. However, several politicians are highly concerned that the Senate bill will severely cut programs for Medicaid expenditures. This new bill will affect college students to varying degrees, and it is important to stay informed on how your coverage might change as a result of this bill.
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