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House Democrats unveil Affordable Care Act stabilization bill

The legislation would protect pre-existing conditions and also aims to lower costs, though passage of the entire package is unlikely.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

House Democrats have introduced legislation that seeks to strengthen the Affordable Care Act by continuing the protections for pre-existing conditions and lowering costs, just three days after the ninth anniversary of the ACA's passage.

As reported by PBS, the bill is aimed at making more middle-class Americans eligible for subsidized insurance through the ACA and pumping up aid for lower-income individuals who already qualify.

The legislation would protect pre-existing conditions by effectively blocking the Trump administration from crafting waivers that allow individual states to circumvent those protections, or to scale back mental health and addiction treatment benefits.

IMPACT

In addition to protecting coverage for pre-existing conditions and lowering costs, the new bill would provide funding to help insurers pay the bills of costly patients, and restore advertising budgets that have taken a hit under the current administration. Democrats hope those measures would stabilize insurance markets.

The House will eventually vote on the measure, but passage will be nigh-impossible in the Senate, which is run by a Republican majority that historically has been hostile to the ACA, attempting on numerous occasions to repeal the law.

Vox reported, however, that some aspects of the bill have bipartisan support and may see implementation in some form, though that could be a ways off.

This year, 11.4 million people have signed up for coverage through the ACA -- a slight decline from 2018 numbers. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has also found enrollment to be steady, with stable premiums and more insurers coming into the market.

THE TREND

The bill is coming out at a time when over 100 House Democrats are supporting Medicare-for-all, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reportedly not among them.

How healthcare will be delivered and paid for in the coming years is central to the 2020 presidential election. Republicans have failed to undo the ACA through legislative means, and are now hanging their hopes on a lawsuit brought in Texas that passed circuit court muster but it now on appeal.

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com