To no one’s surprise, the House voted to allow insurance companies to sell products across state lines.
Yeah, you’ve heard Republicans profess this to be the answer to rising healthcare costs … yet, they never mention that it was House Democrats who have long supported a full repeal of McCarran-
Ferguson’s antitrust exemption for ALL insurers, not just for health insurers.
In 2010, under a Democratic House majority, legislation to repeal the McCarran-Ferguson exemption for health insurers was approved by a vote of 406-19 … all 19 NO votes were Republicans including Paul Ryan.
Whether the repeal will materially help Americans is questionable … according to the Congressional Budget Office, H.R. 372 Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017 effect on health insurance premiums would probably be quite small, and enacting the bill would have no significant net effect on the premiums the private insurers would charge for health or dental insurance.
The Consumers Union observes that the application of the antitrust laws to some health insurance activity, by itself, is simply not enough to create a vibrant insurance market. Further, under current law, including the Affordable Care Act, already allows States to agree with each other to allow cross-State insurance sales … but the Republicans continue to proclaim the magic of “open borders” will save us.
Considering that H.R. 372 Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017 did not receive any NO votes from Republicans and was supported by 181 Democrats … so this was truly a bipartisan-supported legislation.
Not so was the vote prior to approving H.R. 372 Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017 … that was significantly partisan … and will have a major impact on healthcare insurance costs and who maintains coverage.
Previously to approving changes to broaden the stretch of insurance companies, the House voted on Protecting Affordable Health Care for Older Americans … an effort to protect older Americans from the so-called “Age Tax”.
The “Age Tax” will be created by the Republican’s H. R. 1628 Americans Health Care Act of 2017 (aka TrumpDoesNotCare, Ryan Care, PaulsenInsurersProtectionPlan, JasonLewisEndObamacareNowPlan, or as House Republicans want to call it, AHCA).
The “Age Tax” is a solution to a concern of Norm Coleman’s American Action Network (hence they have launched one million robocalls to support AHCA as well as digital ads and radio ads).
Under the current ObamaCare law, the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can only offer rates based on whether you smoke and your age group.
This is where it gets interesting … the ACA says that the oldest group can not be charged more that three times the youngest group.
The Trump Administration considered whether to redefine “3” to mean anything under “3.49” so that insurance companies could charge more. But under a proposal drafted by Susan Brooks (R-IN-05), the ratio could be changed from “3” to “5”.
FunFact … Before the ACA, Minnesota law prescribed the ratio … at age 64 it was 3.000, at age 63 it was 2.952, at age 62 it was 2.873, etc.
This change will have a profound impact on older Americans as those over the age of 50, will be forced to pay more … and since more than 140,000 people fall into that age category in Jason Lewis (MN02), Erik Paulsen (MN03) and Tom Emmer (MN06) districts, that is something that should concern them.
Independent analyses found that this price increase for older Americans will cause nearly half-a-million older Americans to become uninsured … specifically those age 55-64, they would see costs increase $6,971.
Organizations representing older Americans have expressed serious concerns with the Republican proposal.
AARP noted, “We write today to express our opposition to the American Health Care Act. This bill would weaken Medicare’s fiscal sustainability, dramatically increase health care costs for Americans aged 50-64, and put at risk the health care of millions of children and adults with disabilities, and poor seniors who depend on the Medicaid program for long-term services and supports and other benefits.”
The organization continued, “Age rating plus premium increases equal an unaffordable age tax.”
The vote on Protecting Affordable Health Care for Older Americans was unanimously supported by all Democrats as well as Republicans Rod Blum (IA01) and Walter Jones (NC03) but 233 Republicans including “Representatives” Lewis, Paulsen and Emmer said “NO we must keep the Age Tax” (did you expect them not to pay attention to Party leadership?)
The consequence of the Age Tax will force older Americans to re-evaluate their spending … for some, it will mean cutting their own personal discretionary spending, while others may be faced with risking their health needs until Medicare kicks in. In the end, it is anticipated that hundreds of thousands of older Americans would cease coverage … thus leading to an up tick in uncompensated care claims to be shoulder by other policyholders.
Healthcare costs are a problem … the GOP solution will only make things worse.