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U.S. House of Representatives Passes Health Care Reform Bill

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill to repeal and replace portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly referred to as Obamacare. Considered the first phase of reforming the ACA, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) repeals the ACA’s tax provisions, including tax penalties for individuals and employers, provides tax credits to individuals to purchase health insurance, expands Health Savings Accounts, provides money to states to manage a safety net fund and phases out the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid. 

The AHCA was pulled from House floor consideration in March when it became clear there were not enough votes for passage. The bill was recently revised to provide states with the ability to waive some of the benefits that health insurance plans are required to provide under the ACA, which opponents of the 2010 law maintain have led to insurers leaving the marketplace. Insurers will also be allowed to charge higher premiums for customers with preexisting conditions, and the federal government will set up an $8 billion fund to help patients pay those costs.  

The bill only requires a majority threshold for passage in the Senate, since it is tied to the budget. Other non-budget issues are subject to a 60-vote requirement. Among those issues subject to a 60-vote majority are legislation to authorize interstate shopping for health care, creation of nationwide health insurance buying pools and medical liability reform. It is unclear when the U.S. Senate will consider the House bill or its own version of health care reform legislation. 

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