U.S. President Donald Trump's 105th day in the White House was made memorable as the House voted to overhaul the 2010 Affordable Care Act, more popularly known as Obamacare.
In his opening address on Thursday (May 4), House Speaker Paul Ryan, a staunch supporter of the GOP health bill - the American Health Care Act - said Republicans need to put Obamacare, which he referred to as a "failing law," behind. He encouraged House members to "return power from Washington to the states," adding that it was something a lot of them had waited seven years to do.
The decision was made by a tight 217 to 213 vote, with 20 Republicans and all House Democrats opposing the bill designed to put an end to former President Barack Obama's legislative legacy.
As far as Democrats and health sectors are concerned, the new AHCA plan by the Grand Old Party shows some serious red flags. The biggest one is directly aimed at people with pre-existing conditions, or a health problem they had before the start date of the new health coverage.
Before Obamacare, patients with pre-existing health conditions are refused to be covered by health insurance companies or had to pay for special coverage, which frequently led to significantly high premiums. With AHCA underway, we might see something like this again.
In the MacArthur-Meadows amendment written by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-New Jersey), states would be allowed to secure a waiver from the Health and Human Services Department so they could refuse or charge patients with pre-existing health conditions more. If the HHS fails to reply to a state's waiver within 60 days, the requested change would automatically be approved.
Pre-Existing Conditions Under GOP Bill, Gender Bias?
The MacArthur-Meadows amendment also outlined pre-existing health conditions under the new AHCA draft.
As expected, chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, mental issues, and genetic disorders were mentioned.
But people, particularly women, are more concerned about female-centric conditions specified in the latest revision, such as the following:
- • Pregnancy
• Domestic violence
• Sexual assault
• Caesarean section birth
• Post-partum depression
• Gynecological services
Women can be denied health insurance based on these conditions. But the MacArthur-Meadows amendment was quick to dismiss notions of gender-based discrimination:
"Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to discriminate in rates for health insurance coverage by gender," the author wrote.
Will GOP's Health Plan Survive Senate?
Now all eyes are on the Senate.
Trump has expressed his utmost confidence that the Senate will give the green light to the controversial AHCA bill.
"This is a great plan. I actually think it will get even better. This is a repeal and replace of Obamacare. Make no mistake about it," Trump boasted in front of House Republicans during their victory ceremony at the White House Rose Garden.
"This bill is going nowhere fast in the United States Senate," Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, said on the contrary.
The latest estimates of the Congressional Budget Office reported that 24 million more Americans would be without health insurance by 2026 should the new GOP health plan become an official legislation.