Congress passes Obamacare repeal bill

The House and Senate this week managed to pass a bill repealing most of the President’s signature healthcare law

Insurance News


Congress has finally succeeded in dealing a significant blow against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote Wednesday morning to pass a bill that guts significant portions of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law. The President will certainly veto the bill, but the legislation and its passage marks the first time Republicans in the House and Senate have managed to get a repeal out the door.

The bill goes beyond a previous version of repeal, which only targeted the individual and employer mandates, along with the Cadillac and Medical Device Taxes. This legislation also guts the federally-funded expansion of Medicaid and the subsidies for the state insurance exchanges – fundamental tenants of the original law.

“We are confronting the president with the hard, honest truth — Obamacare doesn’t work,” said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Republicans have promised they will find an alternative for the 22 million Americans who would lose their PPACA plans through the repeal, though they have provided few details on how they plan to do that.

Instead, many are hoping to repeat the repeal if a Republican is put in the Oval Office in the fall, where it has a better chance of becoming law.

However, it is unclear what role – if any – Obamacare repeal has in the race for president. Very few of the Republican candidates have made repeal a central platform of their candidacy and even more fringe members, like Donald Trump, have argued for some continued government involvement in the healthcare industry.

Appetite for a total repeal has also waned. Though the public opinion on the ACA remains mixed to negative, a very limited number support a total overhaul, according to Republican pollster Whit Ayres.

“Only 18% of Americans want to go back to the system we had before because they do not want to go back to some of the problems we had,” Ayres said. “Smart Republicans in this area get that.”

Resistance to the ACA is also down among members of the insurance community, some of which enjoyed their best quarter since the law went into effect.

According to a Forbes report, UnitedHealth Group and HCA Holdings last week raised their 2015 revenue projections by billions of dollars.

Hospital operator HCA said its first quarter 2015 revenue could reach $40 billion – up from its initial outlook of between $38.5 billion and $39.5 billion. Meanwhile, UnitedHealth raised its revenue for 2015 by $2 billion; the insurance giant now expects to generate $143 billion in revenue this year.

“We knew back in January that the market was responding positively so it’s played out nicely,” said UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Hemsley.

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