Yesterday, the U.S. Senate released its revised proposal to overhaul health insurance in America. Unfortunately, this new version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA-2) would still cause significant harm to the cancer community.
For clarity, here we will focus just on the changes to the Republican proposal that we will refer to as BCRA-2. Read more about the first version of BCRA.
The major provisions to take note of in this new version include:
- Cutting the Medicaid program so significantly that 15 million fewer people would have coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
- Allowing insurers to sell plans with bare-bones coverage (“junk insurance”), as long as they also sell at least one policy that meets the ACA’s requirements. The concern is that by allowing individuals to purchase this less adequate, but cheaper coverage, healthier people would gravitate towards these plans, and people with pre-existing conditions would stay in marketplace plans, which would result in an unbalanced risk pool, and higher premiums for people buying marketplace plans. In addition, it would lead to higher medical debt for individuals buying junk insurance if they need medical care and find out that they only have bare-bones coverage. This was exactly a problem that the ACA was trying to address by creating minimum standards of coverage for plans being sold.
- Allocating $45 billion to deal with opioid abuse, a clear concession to two Republican Senators’ request.
- Adding $70 billion to help states stabilize their insurance marketplace.
- Keeping an ACA provision that places a 3.8% net tax on investment income and a 0.9% payroll tax on individuals making more than $200,000 annually.
While the BCRA-2 does contain some minimal improvements from the Senate’s original version, it ads changes that would be more harmful to the cancer community and others with pre-existing medical conditions. And, the overall impact of this proposal is still detrimental to most Americans.
In order for the bill to pass the Senate, the Republican Leadership need 51 votes in support. There are 52 Republican Senators and 48 Democratic and Independent Senators. If there is a 50-50 tie, the tie can be broken by a vote from the Vice President of the United States, who is a Republican.
Moderate Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), has announced she wouldn’t support a procedural motion to allow debate on the bill. Conservative Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) also is unlikely to support the bill due to the fact that it doesn’t completely repeal the ACA. Therefore, Republicans can only afford to lose one more vote, if they want to pass the BCRA-2. Three other moderate Republicans have expressed serious concerns about this legislation: Dean Heller (R-NV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Rob Portman (R-OH). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he wants a vote on BCRA as early as next week.
Do You Need Health Insurance Now?
If you do not have health insurance coverage, you can apply for Medicaid at any time or purchase a policy through the State Health Insurance Marketplaces if you qualify for a special enrollment period.
- For more information about how to choose a health insurance policy (including making choices between employer-sponsored options), watch our recorded webinar.
- If you aren’t sure what your health insurance options are or want to understand more about health insurance, visit CancerFinances.org.
What You Can Do
- Contact your U.S. Senators and share your health care concerns, by calling (844) 257-6227. Even if you’ve called before, please call again. Even if you know how your Senators will vote, please call to share your thoughts.
- To find your elected officials or learn more about becoming an advocate, visit our Advocacy resource page. You can also find the Facebook and Twitter handles for the current members of Congress here.