The Better Care Reconcilation Act: Explained

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo by NPR.
Yesterday, the United States Senate unveiled their plans for a new health care bill, titled the Better Care Reconciliation Act. 

What changes with the new healthcare bill?

Unlike the Affordable Care Act, the Better Care Reconciliation Act proposed by the senate will bring back lifetime limits and annual limits, meaning that once your insurance has spent a certain amount, they are no longer required to cover anything related to that diagnosis. Prior to the ACA, a common number might be one million dollars. Once the insurance company has spent that, they don’t need to spend anything else for your care. To put that in perspective: one major spinal surgery and five days in intensive care cost about five hundred thousand dollars- half of a million dollar cap. The majority of those with chronic or serious illnesses would reach their cap pretty quickly.

Under the ACA, every insurance plan is required to offer “essential benefits“. Those essential benefits are: outpatient care, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health/substance abuse treatments, prescription drugs, rehab services, laboratory services (testing), preventative care, wellness services, chronic disease management, and pediatric services, including oral and visual care. The BCRA does not require essential benefits, meaning you could pay more or just as much for a plan that simply does not offer the same things. 
This bill slashes Medicaid by billions of dollars. What does Medicaid do? Well, direct from the Heath and Human Services website:” Medicaid provides health coverage for some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.” With the cuts being proposed, there will be much less money to go around. This will dramatically impact those who rely on Medicaid for health care. You can read more about how this bill will affect Medicaid here:
How does the bill affect taxes? Well, the BCRA will roll back most taxes associated with the Affordable Care Act, including two for those making more than 200,000 dollars a year, a medical device tax, a tax on tanning salons, and a tax on the insurance industry. It will restrict Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood, which provides a large part of reproductive health care in the US- including prenatal care, contraception, STD screening, and abortions.
This will impact everyone, both in the private insurance market and those currently buying insurance through the government exchanges. It will no longer require employers to offer insurance, and will offer tax breaks to those making more than two hundred thousand dollars a year. This bill slashes Medicaid funding, changes how subsidies are calculated, and removes the requirement for essential benefits. It will completely change health care- and not in a good way.

Now, if you disagree with any of this, here’s what you can do. 

Contact your senators. This is particularly important when it comes to those living in red states- call/fax and let them know your concerns. Because this bill is being passed under budget reconciliation, the republicans can avoid a filibuster, but this means that they need every vote they can get, so call and share your story. This bill will cost 24 million people their health insurance in the coming years, and will effect everyone buying insurance in the private markets and on the government exchanges. 

The capital hill switchboard number is (202) 244-3121.

You can also send them a fax via the RESIST bot, which enables you to send a message easily. Text “resist” to 50409 or message the bot on Facebook. It will ask for your zip code, and then will find your senators and you can type out a message.
If you are in a blue state: call your senators and ask them to withhold consent. This will grind the senate to a halt. If you do request that, here is a script you can use if you call or text via resistbot:

“Dear Senator (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname), and I am calling to voice my support for you if you choose to withhold consent for Senate business over the way in which your Republican colleagues are handling the AHCA bill. Working behind closed doors on a law that would, if passed, affect one-sixth of our economy and take health insurance away from as many as 23 million people is unconscionable, and it calls for action. I want you to know that if you choose to withhold consent, and choose to slow or stop the business of the Senate in protest over the way in which the AHCA is being written, I fully support you, and you will have my vote the next time you’re up for re-election.”

And finally: educate yourself. Learn how this bill will affect you, and what it actually proposes. You can read here what this bill contains. 

We cannot let this pass. 

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