GOP Congress members eye ACA repeal vote in early January

Dive Brief:

  • Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) indicated that the House of Representatives will vote on a budget resolution, which will repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the week of January 9, Modern Healthcare reported.

  • Premium prices appear to be stabilizing in the individual insurance market and insurance purchases have recently surged on ACA exchanges, which could signal that the health reform law is working as intended, The Huffington Post reported.

  • Congressional debate regarding the merits of the health reform law could influence public opinion, but the approach Republicans are taking would prevent that debate from taking place.

Dive Insight:

Republicans appear ready to move forward shortly after Congress convenes in early January on a budget reconciliation bill that will dismantle parts of the ACA. In addition to Rep. Walden, other elected Republican politicians, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker Paul Ryan, (R-WI), and President-elect Donald Trump have indicated they support the approach.

The vote will occur despite surges in the number of people signing up for insurance through ACA exchanges and some signs that premium prices are stabilizing in the individual market. Republicans might be rushing a vote on ACA repeal to avoid debate over the merits of the health reform law, as The Huffington Post's Jonathan Cohn reported.

Republicans seem to be coalescing around a plan to repeal the ACA, but delay the effective repeal date for some provisions for up to three or four years. Some industry experts have suggested this approach would create significant uncertainty in the individual insurance market, which could deter payers from participating in ACA exchanges and cause them to collapse.

If the law is fully repealed without a replacement, it would cause the uninsured rate to rise drastically and contribute to larger federal deficits in the future. While Republicans have been calling for “repeal and replace” for years, the focus now seems to be much more on repeal than replace. If Republicans can’t come up with a replacement plan relatively soon, the outcome would likely be bad for payers, providers and patients.

Filed Under: Health Law