Seeking to deflect attention away from their own party’s inability to make good on its seven-year promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, on July 5 the Republican Party instead took aim at their Democratic counterparts, demanding the Democratic party release their plans to fix the law known as Obamacare.
A group of 10 House Democrats took them up on that dare, releasing a plan on Wednesday that would make changes to the ACA to fix some of the underlying issues with the individual markets created by the legislation, Vox reported.
It’s unclear whether Republicans will give any thought to adopting some of the provisions to this plan.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has avoided working with Democrats, but he recently admitted that if Republicans can’t pass their own plan, they may have to work with Democrats to fix the ACA — effectively abandoning their promise to repeal the law altogether.
Still, Republicans don’t appear any closer to having a plan that can pass both the House and Senate. And these House Democrats say they are no longer just going to sit by.
“We need an alternative to the ‘Just say no’ policy that has pervaded Democrats up until now,” Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), who is one of the group of Democrats who crafted the proposal, told Vox. “Let’s have that conversation. Let’s fix the damn thing and get real.”
According to Vox, the plan they released would do five things:
1. Create a $15 billion annual fund that would give extra subsidies to health insurance companies that have expensive patients.
This fund would be permanent, and would help states such as Alaska, whose individual marketplace has high premiums.
2. Remove uncertainty with cost-sharing reduction subsidies.
A number of insurance companies have said they aren’t going to offer health care plans in the individual marketplace because President Donald Trump’s administration is wavering on whether his administration would fund these subsidies. The plan these House Democrats introduced would make these cost-sharing reduction subsidies permanent.
3. Allow older Americans to buy into Medicare.
Currently, Americans aged 65 and older receive Medicare. The House Democratic plan would allow older Americans who fall short of the Medicare eligibility age to buy into the program. The plan, however, does not say at what age people would be eligible to buy into the program.
4. Change the open enrollment period.
Currently, Americans can only elect to purchase insurance during the “open enrollment” period. The only way people can buy insurance outside of this period is if they have a qualifying life event, such as losing a job that provided health care, moving, getting married or having a child, among other things.
Open enrollment for 2018 plans runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. The House Democrats’ plan would change the open enrollment period to align with tax season. During this time, many Americans receive tax returns that could go toward purchasing health care plans.
5. Enforce the individual mandate.
Under the ACA, Americans are required to have health insurance coverage under a provision known as the individual mandate. Those who don’t show proof that they are continually insured through the year are supposed to get hit by a tax penalty.
The mandate is an effort to get young and healthy people into the health care pool, which helps drive down the cost for sick people, who are expensive to insure. The Democrats’ plan would force the Trump administration to enforce the mandate.