Benefits Buzz

ACA Repeal Turns into Pokémon Go Hunt

Posted on March 8th, 2017

On February 24th, Politico got its hands on a rough draft version of a Republican bill that would repeal several key parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and they leaked it to the public. Naturally, Democrats were disgusted by the contents of the bill, but the more interesting thing was even several Republicans said they wouldn’t vote in support of this bill. 
Furious that the bill was leaked to the public, Republican leaders responded by saying the bill was already outdated and several changes were still being considered. Apparently, some of those changes have already been made, but it was literally a secret as to what those changes are. On March 2nd, Republican leaders only allowed members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to view a revised version of the bill. The bill was made available in a reading room of a secret location in the Capitol. No printed copies were provided to avoid leaks to the press. That’s when Senator Rand Paul’s “Pokémon Go Hunt” to obtain a copy of the bill began. 
Paul announced on Twitter last Thursday he was heading to the “secure location” where he would demand a copy of the bill for the American people. His tweet drew a number of reporters and cameras which followed him on his quest to find the bill. However, when Paul got to the location, there was nothing. The bill had already been moved. Paul, unfortunately, was unable to capture this “Pokémon.” 
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also started playing the game by tweeting to Paul a photo of bloodhounds on the hunt, of which Paul retweeted. Paul then held an impromptu press conference where he said, “This is being presented as if it were a national secret as if it were a plot to invade another country.” 
Finally, after several days, Republican leaders unveiled the replacement bill on March 6th. It still needs to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and it will likely see some revisions, but here are some of the things we now know:
  • The bill would eliminate the Individual and Employer Mandates.
  • Tax credits would still be available to individuals who don’t have access to employer or government-sponsored insurance. The tax credits would range from $2,000 - $4,000 per person, up to $14,000 per family. Younger people would get smaller tax credits and older people would get larger tax credits. The amount of the tax credit would start to be phased out for individuals earning $75,000 or families earning $150,000.
  • Most of the taxes created by the ACA would be eliminated. 
  • Medicaid expansion funding would be cut, and federal funding would change to a fixed per capita amount.
  • Medicare was left mostly untouched. 
  • The Cadillac tax would be delayed until 2025. 
Several other changes were included, and it’s unclear if Republicans will garnish enough internal support to pass this bill or a similar version of this bill, but at the minimum, we now at least have a better idea of the direction they’re looking to go.  

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