U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has announced that he will schedule a vote the week of July 24 on so-called repeal and delay legislation that would repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and push off coming up with a replacement plan until sometime in a future Congress. While he and others are trying to sell this as a way to buy more time for developing a replacement plan—something Senate Republicans have failed to do for seven years—this plan would actually have a devastating impact on health care for millions of people right away.
McConnell says he wants to pass the same legislation Congress did in 2015, which President Barack Obama vetoed. Therefore, we have a clear idea of what will be in his bill and the impact it will have.
Despite being called "repeal and delay," his bill immediately repeals some parts of the ACA, including requirements that individuals have insurance coverage or pay a penalty and that mid-size and large employers offer affordable coverage to full-time employees. It also repeals immediately all of the tax provisions that pay for the ACA, including an investment income tax and an additional Medicare tax that only affect people with high incomes, generally more than $200,000 for singles and $250,000 for couples. The bill delays by two years repeal of the ACA’s financial assistance to help individuals pay insurance premiums and cover high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs, as well as elimination of federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid to more low-income adults.
Congress’ budget and tax experts have already looked at McConnell’s proposal. They found that it would take insurance away from huge numbers of people within a year of enactment, premiums would spike and insurance companies would start dropping out of the market. Here are some of their key findings:
Massive Cuts in Health Insurance Coverage: In 2018, it would take insurance away from 17 million people. If no replacement plan were in place by 2020, 27 million more people would be uninsured, with that number jumping to 32 million in 2026, including 19 million people cut off from Medicaid.
Huge Increases in Premiums for Individual Coverage: In 2018, premiums for health insurance would jump by 25% compared to what they would be without repeal. In 2020, premiums would be 50% higher than they would have been; in 2026, premiums would be about 100% higher.
Insurance Is No Longer Available to Buy: The individual insurance market would contract dramatically, with many insurers dropping out of the market. By 2020, 50% of the population would live in areas with no insurers selling non-group coverage. About 75% of the population would have no insurer willing to sell them coverage by 2026.