At 123 pages, the new American Health Care Act is still only a fraction of the current Affordable Care Act, but it is still a dense document that requires some simplification. Here are five questions about what the new bill will mean for us in Georgia.
- WOULD YOU BE REQUIRED TO HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE? -- The GOP's health care bill removes the mandate that forces everyone to get covered, with no fine if you don't. But you will face a still penalty when you get back in. Your new insurer can charge up to a 30 percent premium surcharge.
- IF YOU HAD TO GET YOUR OWN HEALTH INSURANCE, WOULD YOU GET HELP? -- The current plan provides tax credits based on income, age, and the cost of local insurance plans. The new plan gives credits based only on age – from $2,000 if you're under 30 to $4,000 if you're over 60. These apply to anyone making less than $75,000 a year. Otherwise, what you make does not apply -- so in general, higher income residents in lower premium areas will do better under the new plan than under Obamacare. Lower income residents in higher-premium areas will do worse.
- HOW WOULD CHANGES TO MEDICAID AFFECT OUR STATE? -- Our leaders would need to make a choice. They would have until 2020 to expand Medicaid before the new bill freezes enrollment. Otherwise, they would receive additional safety net money that will decrease over time.
- WOULD THIS TAKE AMERICANS OFF INSURANCE? -- It might not do so directly, but it would likely do so via the various hurdles it would create. This could, in Georgia, bring additional stress to rural areas that only have one provider. It's these kinds of problems that, in recent years, have forced several rural Georgia hospitals to close their doors.
- WILL THIS COST MORE OR LESS IN TAXES? -- This, of course, has been the cry from many in Republican circles: they want a health care plan that will bring the deficit down. We don't yet know if this is it. The Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, will review the bill, providing a much clearer picture of what it will cost.
The bill would keep two popular Affordable Care Act protections in place: it would prohibit insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and it would allow young adults to remain on their parents' insurance plan until age 26.