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Separating fact from fiction when it comes to the American Health Care Act

American Health Care Act

With the American Health Care Act one step closer to becoming law, proponents for and critics of the bill are speaking up.

Many people are concerned about what the bill actually does.

“I think it was a disaster that Congress did what they did,” said María Elena Morales.

So CBS4 hit the streets of downtown El Paso to find out what people’s conceptions of the bill are versus reality.

Mandatory health coverage

“I think they're probably going to get rid of that but I'm not exactly sure,” said Wes Navidomskis.

That’s true; the bill no longer requires people to buy insurance through the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

AHCA does away with the individual mandate portion of Obamacare.

Health care coverage penalties

“I heard with a new one that's been passed that the penalty is going away so people don't have to pay the penalty anymore,” said El Pasoan Joel Murphy.

That’s not exactly true; the bill does away with the tax penalty Obamacare implemented.

However, it adds a premium penalty for people who don’t have health insurance for more than two months. Under the AHCA, people who don’t have insurance for 63 days or longer will pay a 30 percent enrollment-gap penalty over their premiums for one year.

Insurance for young people

“It's probably going to be cutting that so I probably say maybe 20 or 21 is the age,” said Lino Castañeda.

That’s not true; the current bill allows people up to the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans, just like Obamacare.

Medicaid Program

“I think it's going to cut it. That was the whole reason behind the repealing of the Obamacare and this bill,” said Castañeda.

That’s true; the AHCA would start rolling back the expansion for the program starting in 2019 by cutting federal reimbursements to the state.

Instead of splitting the costs with states, AHCA would put a cap on federal spending for states depending on how many people they have enrolled in their programs.

But, it lets states keep their Medicaid expansions for now. The rollbacks would affect people who are newly eligible in 2020 or who leave the program and then return.

Pre-existing conditions

“I think the pre-existing conditions are going to be left up to the state,” Morales said.

That is somewhat true. States will be allowed under the new bill to waive the rule that restricts price differences based on a person’s health. It allows insurers to charge higher prices for some sick customers who experienced a lapse in their coverage as well.

But, the bill also adds $8 billion over the five years to help people with these conditions.

For people like Morales, any cuts could be a bad thing.

“I was paying $3,000 a month just me and my son because I had pre-existing conditions I couldn't change so when Obamacare came in (it) went down to $1,000,” Morales said.

She’s just hoping she’ll be able to enroll in Medicare befor

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