The U.S. House of Representatives today narrowly passed H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act, which CSEA and many other groups strongly opposed. With a final vote of 217-213, every Republican Congressmember from California voted for the bill; all the Democrats voted against it.
The House bill repeals and replaces major parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most notably removing the mandate for insurance coverage, rolling back coverage for essential medical benefits, and breaking a promise to Americans with pre-existing conditions.
The measure now heads to the U.S. Senate, where it faces more opposition. California's two senators, both Democrats, are already on record opposing the repeal of the ACA.
The bill would leave at least 24 million more Americans without health insurance and cause insurance premiums to spike next year, according to an earlier analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. It would cost California billions in lost Medi-Cal funding and drive up premiums-especially for older people.
According to the New York Times, Republican leaders changed the House bill to woo hard-line conservatives, allowing state governments to roll back required coverage for "essential" services like maternity and emergency care. States could also seek waivers that would let insurers charge higher premiums for customers with pre-existing medical conditions, forcing them into "high risk" pools that California has tried in the past and found to be too expensive for working people to afford.
The bill would also cut $24 billion in funding and make profound changes to Medi-Cal, the health program for low-income people. It would result in more than four million Californians losing coverage, and increase insurance premiums and deductibles for many more. At the same time, the bill would repeal many of the ACA taxes on high-income people, insurers and drug companies.
"This is a terrible bill," Association President Ben Valdepena said, "We must re-double our efforts to defeat it in the Senate."