WASHINGTON, DC – There is genuine concern that the repeal and replacement of Obamacare will be a lengthy and complicated process despite Republican control of both the White House and Congress starting in 2017.
“However,” says Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens, “it can be done. There is more than one way to skin a cat, as the saying goes, although it might take longer and require more ingenuity than one might think because the Affordable Care Act was designed by Democrats to be a can of wriggling worms. The law, itself, is about 2,700 pages but the complex rules and regulations that accompany the ACA are estimated to add more than 20,000 additional pages.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “Better Way” offers a market-oriented substitute for Obamacare but it has come under bi-partisan fire. Forbes Magazine columnist Avik Roy, an Obamacare expert, points out that even if the House manages to come up with a feasible way to repeal and replace the ACA, such legislation would likely be turned down in the Senate where it would need 60 votes to pass. Although the Republicans control the Senate, there aren’t enough of them to overpower Democrats anxious to preserve President Obama’s signature accomplishment.
But in a recent column, Roy explained how a bill might be constructed that can pass muster in Congress and that President-elect Trump could sign into law. “It is definitely possible for the GOP to repeal and replace Obamacare,” he wrote.
Roy notes that while Democrats could use a filibuster to preserve provisions of the law that make up the substance of Obamacare, they cannot use it as regards its financial aspects. Thus, the Republican majority can use what is called budget reconciliation to undermine the funding of key ACA provisions. Reconciliation requires only a simple majority for approval and is filibuster-proof.
Therefore, the partial repeal of Obamacare can be brought about using reconciliation, creating “a pathway to market-based universal coverage that reduces, instead of increasing, the federal role in health care.” It would allow Congress to rescind the ACA’s premium subsidies and substitute them with a system of means-tested tax credits, he explains.
Roy’s approach would also prominently feature expanded use of Health Savings Accounts [HSA’s], a proposal that is strongly supported by Weber’s Association of Mature American Citizens. “The Health Care Choices Act, which has been proposed in the House, would get rid of unnecessary and overburdening regulations that limit the use of HSA’s. For example, under current law, HSA owners are barred from using HSA funds to cover insurance premiums, direct primary care costs, over-the-counter drugs, and several other commonsense expenditures related to their health.”
AMAC wants to change all of that. Weber says “Americans, and senior citizens, in particular, should have complete and total control over the purchasing and saving powers inherent in an HSA. This bill puts the decision-making power back in the hands of account holders by doubling the contribution limit-empowering individuals to determine how much money they need to save for their healthcare.”
Meanwhile, if President-elect Trump and the Republican Congress have their way, next year individuals would be able to put away, tax free, as much as $6,550 instead of the current limit of $3,400 and families would be able to make up to $13,100 in tax free contributions instead of the current limit of $6,750.