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Repeal of ACA on Republican agenda after midterms

Repeal would end the ACA's most popular provision, to cover those with preexisting conditions.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty ImagesSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republicans could try again to repeal the Affordable Care Act if they win enough seats in the midterm election this November, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Providers want to keep the ACA to minimize the cost of uncompensated care from treating individuals who have no insurance.

Insurers this year have turned around earlier losses and exits, expanding their footprint in the market and, in many cases, offering lowering premium rates for 2019.

Studies show most consumers like the ACA but remain confused about the healthcare law, with close to 80 percent unaware that open enrollment starts on November 1.

THE TREND

Republicans last year tried and failed to repeal the ACA. In another attempt to get rid of the individual and employer mandates for coverage, the GOP this summer introduced the "skinny" repeal in the Health Care Freedom Act.

On July 28, Senator John McCain cast the deciding vote when he joined two other Republican senators in voting down the skinny repeal of the ACA that the Congressional Budget Office said could result in 16 million more people becoming uninsured. Provider groups such as America's Essential Hospitals and the American Medical Association, voiced their approval that the skinny repeal failed.

Republicans got rid of the individual and employer mandates in this year's budget bill.

The Trump Administration also introduced a less expensive alternative to ACA plans in allowing consumers to buy short-term limited duration plans that offer coverage for up to a year and can be extended for three years. The short-term plans are not mandated by law, as are ACA plans, to cover pre-existing conditions and offer essential benefits.

THEIR TAKE

Republicans have long promised to end the ACA because they say it's not working.

OUR TAKE

Republicans have been chipping away at Obamacare and the government has drastically cut funds to promote it, but at the same time, the Department of Health and Human Services has helped to stabilize the market. Most significantly, it has allowed insurers to silver load plans to apply full premium increases to silver plans in the ACA to make up for the loss of cost-sharing reduction payments that were eliminated by President Trump. Since nine out of 10 consumers get tax subsidies for buying plans, this move was essentially subsidized by the federal government.

Even if the GOP retains its majority this November, repeal of the ACA will be an uphill battle. It would end the ACA's most popular provision to cover those with preexisting conditions.

President Trump tweeted on Friday his support of protecting those who have preexisting conditioins saying. "All Republicans support people with pre-existing conditions, and if they don't, they will after I speak to them. I am in total support. Also, Democrats will destroy your Medicare, and I will keep it healthy and well!"

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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