The ups and downs of the attempts to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act over the last several months are well-documented. This was a subject that drew a lot of attention from lawmakers, policy experts and the general public alike, and despite the recent apparent failure of the repeal-and-replace effort, there are still a lot of questions about what comes next for the national health care debate.
One of the biggest issues here is that GOP lawmakers don't seem to have totally given up on passing the original repeal-and-replace bill, according to The Associated Press. While nothing is yet certain, it appears one last attempted vote on the issue could be in the offing before they move on to a different strategy for addressing the national health care situation.
"Dealing with this issue is what's right for the country," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the media. "It was certainly never going to be easy, but we've come a long way and I look forward to continuing our work together to finally bring relief."
Concerns about loss of coverage
Perhaps the most significant hurdle to a vote on the Republican health care bill is that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects tens of millions of people will lose coverage over the next several years if it were to pass, the AP noted. Moreover, those that don't lose coverage outright would likely have to pay significantly more for it, with some national average premiums nearly tripling.
More concerning in this regard, however, is that GOP legislators are also reportedly considering a bill that would not try to replace the ACA at all, simply repealing it and leaving nothing in its stead, according to the Tribune News Service. If that were to happen, the CBO estimates, some 32 million Americans would lose coverage over the following decade, and health insurance premiums would roughly double.
However, there is no clear path forward for an ACA repeal or replacement at this time.
In the meantime
A clear effect of all this legislative wrangling over the past few months, however, has begun to emerge in the form of unpredictable rate increase filings now being submitted to state governments nationwide, according to Kaiser Health News. For their part, insurers say it's very difficult to operate under the current conditions simply because they don't know what next year's health care landscape will look like, which makes them err on the side of extreme caution.
"Here we are in the middle of July, and we don't even know what rules we will be operating under for open enrollment," John Baackes, CEO of L.A. Care Health Plan, told the news organization. "It is not how you want to run a business."
Certainly this is an issue for everyone both within and outside of the health insurance industry to monitor carefully, because it could end up having a significant impact on just about everyone's finances and health going forward.