President Donald J. Trump began dismantling the Affordable Care Act on day one of his presidency. Congress took steps toward repealing the law on their first week back to work in 2017.
But further congressional action on repealing and replacing the bill might take a few more weeks.
Congressional Republicans are meeting in Philadelphia for their annual policy retreat. At the beginning of their session, their leaders told the Associated Press they plan to act on a health care repeal bill by the end of March.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., established the goal of acting on an ACA repeal bill and replacing some portions of it by the end of March, and passing legislation to overhaul the tax code by August.
Meanwhile, a number of ACA proposals have been introduced in Congress. Here are two of the most recent:
Congressman Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., introduced the Employee Fairness and Relief Act to allow insurance companies to continue offering small group market insurance plans as they existed prior to passage of the ACA, ensuring access to these plan options for small businesses and their employees.
The existing pre-ACA small group insurance plans are scheduled to expire on Dec. 31. By allowing these plans to continue, small business employees would have more choices between insurance plans instead of being forced into the ACA marketplace, Guthrie said in a news release.
Congressman Gregg Harper, R-Miss., introduced the Patient Fairness and Relief Act of 2017, which allows individuals to maintain the health insurance policies they had before the ACA’s passage. The bill is aimed at those who whose health insurance policies were cancelled after the ACA took effect because their coverage was not compliant with the law.
Beginning in 2014, the Obama Administration created a transitional relief policy which allowed individuals and groups to maintain health insurance policies that did not comply with the Affordable Care Act. On three separate occasions, the Obama Administration granted millions of people across the country this temporary waiver from losing their current health insurance plan.
But the administration refused to grant this relief a fourth time and these policies would have to be cancelled at the end of 2017, Harper said in a news release.
"This legislation will allow individuals who were granted the transitional relief policy to be able to keep their plans indefinitely, avoiding cancellations, premium rate increases, and helping to stabilize the insurance market for individual health plans," he said.
Earlier this week, the Patient Freedom Act of 2017 was announced by Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Susan Collins, R-Maine. The plan calls for keeping many of the ACA's taxes in place in order to provide revenue for the replacement proposal. In addition, the proposed bill gives states options in whether they will remain with the current health care law.
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse D-R.I., Sherrod Brown D-Ohio, and Al Franken, D-Minn., introduced the Consumer Health Options and Insurance Competition Enhancement (CHOICE) Act, to add a publicly operated health insurance option to individual marketplaces.
Also this week, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced the Obamacare Replacement Act. Among its provisions, the proposal would eliminate the essential health benefits requirement, provide a two-year open-enrollment period under which individuals with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage, and establish incentives for consumers to contribute to health savings accounts.
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected].
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