Republicans are gearing up for another attempt at repealing the Affordable Care Act this summer — and it looks a lot like their last one.
A group of 40 conservative analysts have been crafting the proposal, which they plan to release to Congress for consideration this month, around the time that higher premiums for 2019 Obamacare plans will be released in many states, the Washington Examiner reported.
Their strategy is to avoid Republican blame for those higher premiums and blowback in the 2018 midterms. Insurers have said that Republican actions are, in fact, responsible for increasing prices: Namely, the GOP’s elimination of the individual mandate and President Trump’s refusal to pay federal subsidies to states, which were established to keep costs down.
The new proposal is being spearheaded by the Heritage Foundation and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), the Examiner reports. Like the GOP’s last attempt, the Graham-Cassidy bill, the plan would convert federal funds to block grants for individual states.
Unlike Graham-Cassidy, it would preserve the requirement that insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions. But it would eliminate the mandate that states maintain a single risk pool for both sick and healthy people. So insurers could separate the two, causing premiums for those with pre-existing conditions to rise. (A risk pool allows a state to offset the insurance costs of sicker people but relies on healthy people paying in.)
The recommendation would also allow states to waive the requirement that insurers’ plans cover 10 essential health services, including maternity and mental-health care, the Examiner says.
It’s unclear whether the group will recommend lifting the ban on lifetime coverage limits, a controversial part of Graham-Cassidy that helped galvanize public protests against the bill.
It’s also uncertain whether Congress will take up health care again before the midterms. The Examiner says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been mulling whether to cancel the Senate’s traditional monthlong August recess.