The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill was originally introduced in March, but was pulled from a vote as support waned. The bill narrowly passed the House after amendments were added allowing states to opt-out of certain consumer protections and receive supplemental funding to provide coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions who lose coverage. The bill now moves on to the Senate for consideration.
The AHCA includes several changes that could impact the cancer community significantly. These include:
- Reducing funding for Medicaid by converting the federal share into a per-capita cap or standard block grant as opposed to the current model that adjusts based on changes in actual health care costs and enrollment.
- Prohibiting patients who rely on Medicaid from using their insurance to receive cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood.
- Eliminating the cost-sharing subsidies that reduce deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for Marketplace enrollees with low-incomes, and changing the structure of premium tax credits.
- Allowing insurers to charge older adults significantly more than younger adults for health coverage.
- Imposing a penalty on individuals who try to purchase insurance in the individual market after having a gap in coverage of more than 63 days.
- Allowing states to opt-out of federal essential health benefit rules, which both ensure comprehensive coverage and define which benefits have limits on out-of-pocket costs and are exempt from annual and lifetime limits on coverage.
- Permitting states to opt-out of certain protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions like cancer, allowing insurers to charge someone who had a gap in coverage higher rates based on their health status.
- Repealing the Prevention and Public Health Fund which provides funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health agencies for things like immunization and tobacco awareness programs.
- Repealing the 10-percent “tanning tax” on indoor tanning services.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report in March stated that the bill, without the latest amendments, would reduce federal Medicaid funding to states by over $800 billion and increase the nationwide number of uninsured individuals by $24 million over 10 years.
Supporting cancer prevention and increasing access to quality cancer care through affordable public and private health insurance are priorities of both the WI Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan 2015-2020 and the WI Cancer Council Policy Agenda. The WI Comprehensive Cancer Control Program will continue to monitor this bill and will provide updates and additional resources as they become available. For more information on the AHCA and how it compares to the ACA, check out this comparison table or interactive map.