Details surrounding the secretive health care plan were kept tightly sealed until today. Here's the gist of what you need to know.
After weeks of speculation about what's inside the legislation, the Senate revealed a "discussion draft" of its new health care policy. The 142-page document is a last-ditch effort by Republicans to keep the party's long-standing promise of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aka "Obamacare." It was rumored to be a complete overhaul of the House bill that passed last week. But while there are a few key changes, its framework is actually quite similar.
The bill contains some measures that might appeal to the GOP at face value, including major tax reductions. But it also maintains some aspects of Obamacare, including tax credits to help people buy insurance, which is beneficial to the elderly and low-income families. Whether or not the bill passes remains to be seen, but before it heads to a vote next week, here are a few things you'll want to know.
1. It would defund Planned Parenthood for a year.
Keeping with the campaign promise from President Trump, the bill would strip Planned Parenthood of the $530 million in funding it relies on for one year. This money is used to operate 650 health care centers nationwide. These centers provide millions of women access to crucial services such as Pap smears, cancer screenings, and family planning. With an estimated one in five women using Planned Parenthood's services once or more in her life, this is something that affects a huge population. Plus, with the number of ob-gyns steadily decreasing (there are reportedly just 29 gynos per 100,000 women in America), even more people will be in need of its services.
2. It would help protect people with pre-existing conditions.
Unlike the House bill, the Senate's would not lift the ban on insurers spiking the prices of those with pre-existing conditions. This is great news for the estimated 52 million adults who would fall under this category, which even includes women who have previously had a C-section or who have been the victim of domestic violence or sexual assault. The list of these pre-existing conditions is extensive and includes depression, transsexualism, and even pregnancy. This health care bill would hold on to the provisions of the ACA that make sure insurance premiums for people with pre-existing conditions are not higher simply because of those conditions.
3. It may make getting insurance harder for the poor.
The Senate's plan would phase out any extra money for Medicaid, eliminating state incentives to expand their programs for poor populations who can't afford coverage otherwise—same as the House bill. Roughly 70 million people in America rely on this government funding to get access to care, and losing it could have a drastic impact on the overall health of Americans. The Senate's plan, however, would pull the money out at a slower pace, which may give some people time to find alternate options. Still, if the previous estimates from the Congressional Budget Office remain on par, up to 23 million Americans could lose insurance over the next decade.
4. It would eliminate the penalty for not getting insurance.
One of the most controversial elements of Obamacare was a mandate that required every American to get insurance—with a rule that those who don't would have to pay a penalty. This Senate health care bill eliminates that provision entirely, leaving the decision on whether or not to get insurance in your hands.