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May 3rd Update on AHCA, Pre-existing Conditions, and Obamacare Repeal

Republicans in Congress are maneuvering to obtain the necessary votes for their healthcare bill, known as AHCA, which stands for American Healthcare Act. This bill, which would repeal and replace the ACA, known as Obamacare, will likely be voted on this week. 

The MacArthur amendment in April 2017 added the ability of insurance companies to charge patients in their 50s and 60s more than younger patients, and allowed states the opportunity to waive some of the required coverage provision found in Obamacare.

Much of the debate focuses around coverage of pre-existing conditions, with the new bill likely not providing as much support for patients with pre-existing conditions as Obamacare did. However, a recent amendment by Fred Upton (R-Mich.) will provide up to $8 billion to provide financial assistance to people with pre-existing conditions, who will likely have to pay more for insurance than their healthier cohorts. 

The debate is a critical one, as it pits cost-savings against citizen welfare. Current CBO estimates state the the AHCA would save between 150-300 billion over 10 years. However, as many as 10 million may lose coverage over the same time period. It should be noted that the existing version of AHCA does not completely abandon those with pre-existing conditions. It provides similar protection as Obamacare for those that stay continually insured, as an incentive to participants to stay insured. It also provides a limit (one year) on the amount of time that an insurer may deny or increase initial rates on someone with pre-existing conditions.

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