“Obamacare is collapsing — and we must act decisively to protect all Americans,” President Donald Trump told Congress last night. “Action is not a choice — it is a necessity.”
“So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in the Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster,” Trump said.
Trump’s outlined five priorities for replacing Obamacare:
- Ensure people with pre-existing health conditions are guaranteed “access” to health insurance, “and that we have a stable transition for Americans currently enrolled in the health-care exchanges.
- Give people who buy their own health coverage tax credits and expanded health savings accounts, with flexibility in the design of their plans.
- Give states “the resources and flexibility” in their Medicaid programs to “make sure no one is left out.”
- Legal reforms to protect doctors and patients “from unnecessary costs” that drive up insurance costs and to bring down the price of high-costing drugs.
- Creating a national insurance marketplace that allows insurers to sell health plans across state lines.
Trump said Obamacare’s mandate that nearly all Americans have some form of health insurance or face a fine “was never the right choice for America.”
“Obamacare has crippled the health insurance industry, and intruded on the practice of medicine, but there are finally some solutions in sight,” said Citizen’s Council for Health Freedom (CCHF) president Twila Brase. “Now is the time that Americans can begin to take control of their health care by contacting their lawmakers and urging them to do what’s best for patients, doctors and costs.”
Here are four problems CCHF is looking at:
PROBLEM #1: Obamacare penalties
Americans are paying penalties for refusing to buy an unaffordable, government-dictated insurance plan. As part of President Donald Trump’s first executive order to decrease the financial burdens of the Affordable Care Act, the IRS will no longer require Americans to list their insured status.
The IRS will now accept and process tax returns even if a taxpayer is silent on coverage.
CCHF has a simple fix—“Leave it blank.” Regardless of whether those filing taxes have coverage or not, they should protect their privacy and just leave line 61 blank on the IRS form.
PROBLEM #2: Delayed repeal
The Trump-Pence team wanted a repeal bill on Trump’s desk but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’d deliver one by the end of February. In response, according to The Daily Signal, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) have introduced The Obamacare Replacement Act, which has the full support of the House Freedom Caucus.
Lawmakers must begin to hold hearings on the Paul/Sanford bill to maintain momentum for repeal. Brase says proposed changes to Health Savings Accounts deserve attention regardless of what bill eventually repeals the ACA.
PROBLEM #3: Exit of health insurers
Politico recently reported that health insurance giant Humana will quit Obamacare’s subsidized insurance markets altogether but will sell coverage in 2018. Humana is just the latest of many insurers to exit HealthCare.gov. CCHF says Congress promised insurers “rescue dollars” that could never be delivered, and after Congress refused to cover their losses with taxpayer bailouts, insurers are making the wise decisions they should have made before they agreed to participate in Obamacare.
To restore affordable coverage options, HHS Secretary Tom Price can trim the long list of costly “essential health benefit” mandates, and Congress can repeal the section of the ACA that prohibits catastrophic coverage plans, which millions of Americans lost when they were declared unlawful.
“True insurance protects against financial devastation from the rare, unexpected, catastrophic medical event,” Brase said. “Today, most people have a prepaid health care policy that covers everything from a sinus infection to a broken wrist to brain cancer, which makes it unnecessarily expensive. A health insurance policy is something that should be tucked away in a drawer and only brought out for emergencies.”
PROBLEM #4: Loss of newborn privacy
On Jan. 19, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and 15 other federal agencies issued the final rule on “Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects,” typically called “The Common Rule.” The rule updates “regulations that safeguard individuals who participate in research,” but CCHF says it leaves the privacy of the country’s youngest citizens out in the cold.
“Special protections for the genetic privacy of children and newborn citizens were enacted in the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act of 2014, but it the Rule declares the end of those protections,” Brase said. “Now, we will urge Congress to use the Congressional Review Act to reconsider this rule due to the absence of those 2014 protections in the final Common Rule.”
Brase added that the new Common Rule states that the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act of 2014 “made a number of changes relevant to the HHS regulations for protecting research subjects, including asserting that research with newborn dried blood spots (DBS) that is federally funded pursuant to the Public Health Service Act is to be considered research with human subjects, and that the provisions allowing IRBs to waive consent would not apply. By statute, the changes made by this law applied only until changes to the Common Rule are promulgated. Thus, the changes made by this statute will no longer apply after the effective date of this rule, January 19, 2018.”
Congress has 60 session days after the rule was finalized on Jan. 19—less than a month from now—to reconsider the language and return privacy rights to parents and their newborns.