Healthcare News & Insights

ACA ‘skinny repeal’ fails: What’s on the horizon for hospitals?

As it currently stands, the push to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) seems to be at a standstill after the Republicans’ “skinny repeal” plan failed to pass in the Senate. That may lead hospitals to think the fight’s over, but it’s not finished just yet. 

The skinny repeal, also known as The Health Care Freedom Act, would’ve left many ACA provisions intact. However, it would’ve removed the mandate that individuals have health insurance coverage, as well as the requirement for companies to provide insurance to employees.

That would’ve caused 16 million Americans to lose insurance coverage, as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Although this bill was more moderate than previous attempts to repeal the ACA, it still didn’t get enough support. All Republicans needed to vote to pass it, and three – Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain – refused, per an article in Vox.

Is new bill pending?

With the latest defeat, the future of the ACA seemed more certain. However, one last Republican-sponsored proposal is still being shopped around, and it could be even more disruptive than any other options considered so far.

The legislation, sponsored by three Republican senators (Lindsey Graham, Bill Cassidy and Dean Heller), would send federal funding set aside for health insurance directly to states and give them most of the control over how it’s spent, according to an article from Politico.

Some states could choose to fund a system similar to the one that exists under the ACA, while others could create their own health insurance system. Because all healthcare funding would be in the hands of states, the bill would essentially end the Medicaid expansion and get rid of the federal subsidies for private insurance.

Although states could choose to maintain these systems with their share of the funds, they don’t have to. So money that’s currently designated to providing health insurance could be spent in other areas, per another article from Vox about the new bill.

As it stands, the legislation hasn’t been evaluated by the CBO, but an analysis of the proposal from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said that it could still cause millions to lose coverage.

Future outlook

There’s no telling if this new bill will make it to a vote anytime soon. Many senators, frustrated with the lack of progress, now want to turn their efforts toward tax reform. A healthcare committee meeting, focused mostly on taxes, will take place next month, according to an article in The Hill.

Both Republicans and Democrats have said they’d be open to discussing the ACA and its tax implications at that time. In addition, the committee’s planning on working toward creating a bipartisan bill to stabilize the current healthcare marketplaces, since a repeal isn’t imminent.

Right now, hospitals can expect the status quo to stay in place when it comes to patients’ insurance coverage, including Medicaid, and with meeting all the other requirements set in place by the ACA. But because healthcare reform efforts are still ongoing, we’ll continue to keep you posted on any developments.

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