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ICYMI: The American Health Care Act is a Good Start

- March 10, 2017

Excerpts from The Washington Post

By: Douglas Holtz-Eakin
Friday, March 10, 2017

"The draft legislative texts that will make up the American Health Care Act cleared two House committees this week amid vociferous complaints about the legislation, seemingly from all quarters …

"Given these circumstances, any bill designed to achieve 218 votes in the House and 51 votes in the Senate is going to generate some dissatisfaction for all involved. Nevertheless, the bill is an important step away from the ACA and a clear step forward on health-care policy.

"Some broad themes are clear. The ACA was a one-size-fits-all, top-down approach to policymaking. In contrast, the AHCA moves decision-making to the grass roots by providing funding, but permitting states flexibility in how to deal with costly preexisting conditions, provide reinsurance and other stop-loss protections that permit insurers to function effectively, and trusting state insurance regulators to run their markets. Even the significant Medicaid reform needed to ensure the program’s long-term sustainability carries enormous freedom for states to tailor their programs to their populations.

"The ACA dictated insurance choices to individuals and families with its bronze, silver, gold and other levels. It required that they shop in government-run exchanges to get subsidies, and it levied a fee on those who were uninsured. The AHCA places trust in the decisions of individuals and families by making greater use of health savings accounts (which hone the market incentives for higher-value care) and respecting their ability to follow incentives to be continuously insured. Its refundable tax credit will be available to all low- to moderate-income individuals and will tend to equalize the tax treatment of employer and individual insurance.

"Finally, the AHCA gets rid of most of the ACA’s many ill-conceived tax policies including the medical-device tax, the health insurer fee and the investment surtax …

"... But the bottom line is simple: Early criticism notwithstanding, the AHCA is a good start to reform the federal government’s role in the health sector.” 

Read the full op-ed here.





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