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Health Insurance Bill Dealmaker Draws Fire From Both Sides

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Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., has developed a widely discussed proposal for uniting conservative and moderate Republicans behind the American Health Care Act bill.

A look at the comments on MacArthur’s Facebook page shows how tough trying to win support for a health insurance measure can be.

MacArthur has not yet released a formal version of his proposal, but he says in a Facebook entry that he would let states get waivers from some Affordable Care Act provisions, such as the ban on medical underwriting, if the state provided a high-risk pool, or special health insurance program, for people with health problems.

(Related: White House, GOP Leaders at Odds Over ACA Bill Vote Plans)

It’s not clear from the Facebook entry what kind of risk pool a state would have to offer to qualify for an ACA requirements waiver, or if MacArthur has proposed setting any federal standards for the risk pools.

MacArthur says, “The amendment will make coverage of pre-existing conditions sancrosanct for all Americans and ensures essential health benefits remains the federal standard.”

MacArthur does have personal experience with insurance: He ran York Risk Services Group, a workers’ compensation claim management firm, for 11 years.

News organizations are reporting that the MacArthur amendment proposal could help bring the more conservative Republicans in the Freedom Caucus together with the more centrist Republicans in the Tuesday Group, and that a deal could lead to a new vote on the AHCA bill sometime this week.

The AHCA measure would eliminate the ACA individual and employer mandates; create a new system of state health insurance market subsidy grants; and replace the income-based ACA exchange plan tax credits with age-based tax credits.

Facebook commenters on the left say MacArthur’s amendments would drive up costs for people with health problems and stick them in underfunded risk pools.

One commenter, Steve DeMaio wrote, “High-risk pools failed in 35 states before the Affordable Care Act. They are insurance ghettos subject to annual whims.”

Another commenter, Steve Stern, wrote, “Congress should wake up and realize that health care is a right and the most cost-effective approach is single-payer.”

Most of the Republican commenters were equally critical. They blasted MacArthur for trying to save parts of the ACA.

“Congressman MacArthur, we must have #FullRepeal!” wrote Deonna Sinniger. “We must not allow this new bill to become a revision and a rename to the disaster that was Obamacare.”

Another Republican, Craig Durham, described MacArthur’s proposal as something that “basically etches O-care in titanium.”

Bill Harman wrote, “We want nothing less than #FullRepeal and a free market solution to health care in these United States. Praying for your daily.”

— Read Health Market Needs Medical Underwriting, Analyst Says on ThinkAdvisor.


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