Update: 6/23/17 3:30 p.m. Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller announced he will not support the GOP health care bill in its current form. Heller is the fifth Senate Republican to make that declaration.
WASHINGTON- Former President Barack Obama said the Senate version of the House-approved bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would benefit the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.
“It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America,” Obama wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday shortly after a draft of the bill was posted online. “It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else.”
Obama also said that the legislation: “is not a health care bill.”
The Affordable Care Act became law in March 2010 and is widely regarded as the Obama Administration’s most significant legislative achievement. Republicans have opposed the ACA since its inception and often refer to the law as “Obamacare.”
The House of Representatives last month narrowly passed a revised version of an ACA repeal and replacement bill: The American Health Care Act (AHCA).
The Senate version mostly mirrors the House bill but would allow for the continuance of federal subsidies that under the Affordable Care Act are allocated to those who cannot afford to pay their monthly health insurance premiums.
Senate Republican leaders hope to vote on the AHCA by June 29 before Congress’ one-week Fourth of July recess.
But passage prospects are complicated by Thursday’s announcement by four conservative Republican senators who oppose the bill in its current form as well as expressed concern from several GOP moderates over the AHCA’s drastic Medicaid cuts.
Failure to bring either of those parties on board would likely kill the legislation.
The American Health Care Act would allow individuals 26 years of age and under to maintain health coverage under their parents’ insurance plans as is guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act.
The American Health Care Act also would eliminate the controversial individual mandated coverage provision contained in Obamacare that allows the government to levy a small fine on people who chose not to purchase health insurance. Employer mandates to offer coverage also would be eliminated.
The American Health Care Act would allow states under certain circumstances to apply for waivers exempting coverage of certain essential health benefits mandated under the Affordable Care Act.
Critics of the Affordable Care Act have argued that while it has improved access to health insurance, it has not improved access to health care.
Many families who have purchased Affordable Care Act policies have been smacked with skyrocketing premiums and unaffordable deductibles.
Also many insurers have decided to opt out of participating in state Affordable Care Act exchanges due to cost concerns.
Democrats have long opposed repealing the Affordable Care Act and have instead tried to convince Republicans to work toward fixing problems associated with the law. Many Democrats have referred to the AHCA as “Trumpcare.”