Seven years ago, Democrats imposed a risky health care experiment on Americans that led to skyrocketing costs and collapsing insurance markets. Senate Republicans are working to fix the mess Democrats made by acting to rescue the millions trapped by Obamacare.
Last week, Senate Republicans released a first draft of legislation repealing and replacing Obamacare.
The discussion draft will help stabilize collapsing insurance markets that have left millions of Americans with no options. The Short-Term Stabilization Fund will help balance premium costs and promote more choice in insurance markets throughout the country. This stabilization fund would help address coverage and access disruption – providing $15 billion per year in 2018 and 2019; $10 billion per year in 2020 and 2021.
It will also free the American people from the onerous Obamacare mandates that require them to purchase insurance they don’t want or can’t afford by repealing the individual employer mandates.
The legislation will improve the affordability of health insurance, which keeps getting more expensive under Obamacare. Targeted tax credits will help defray the cost of purchasing insurance; these advanceable and refundable credits - adjusted for income, age and geography - will help ensure those who truly need financial assistance can afford a health plan. It will also repeal costly Obamacare taxes that contribute to premium increases and hurt life-saving health care innovation, like the taxes on health insurance, prescription drugs, medical devices, and “high-cost” employer sponsored plans.
The draft aims to preserve access to care for Americans with pre-existing conditions, and allow children to stay on their parents’ health insurance through age 26. There are no changes to current law as it applies to Veterans, Medicare, or Social Security benefits.
And lastly, to strengthen Medicaid for those who need it most by giving states more flexibility while ensuring that those who rely on this program won’t have the rug pulled out from under them. In 2021, it will begin gradual reductions in the amount of federal Obamacare funds provided to expand Medicaid, restoring levels of federal support to preexisting law by 2024 while providing fairness for non-expansion states. It also guarantees children with medically complex disabilities will continue to be covered and provides additional state flexibility to address the substance abuse and mental health crisis.
It is still too early to tell exactly what this bill will mean for Virginia, but what we need is a bill that protects pre-existing conditions and ensures access to affordable care, but also gives flexibility to the states to lower premiums and provide better quality coverage.
While there is a long way to go in the legislative process, the bill as currently drafted will give states more flexibility to apply for waivers and design state-specific solutions. This includes flexibility to apply for waivers on essential health benefit standards and health insurance market rules.
We will continue to monitor this and are prepared to act accordingly to improve healthcare in the Commonwealth. The General Assembly formed a joint subcommittee this year to continue to monitor changes in federal healthcare law. We encourage Congress to improve the plan in a way that helps responsible states like Virginia.
It is a privilege to represent you in the Virginia House of Delegates. I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office. I will be spending the coming weeks meeting and visiting with various groups, businesses and constituents giving updates on the 2017 session. You can email me at DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov or call me at (804)698-1059. You can also join the conversation on our social media page www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.