GOP replacement plan for ACA revealed

The upcoming election will have serious impacts on the state of healthcare in the U.S.

Since its inception, the Affordable Care Act has been a point of contention for lawmakers, companies and politicians across the country. Many of the opponents of the plan believed the initiative put additional and unnecessary costs on businesses now tasked with providing healthcare to their workers. Supporters of the regulation claimed the ACA was giving people in all walks of life access to affordable coverage.

With the presidential election on the horizon, the pros and cons of the ACA are once again at the forefront of the discussion. Democrats hope to keep the plan in action, while making necessary changes to the regulation over time. Republicans, on the other hand, want to eliminate the program altogether. The GOP has recently released details of its alternative to the ACA. Secova has a closer look.

Republicans' version of the ACA is the first of six parts of their "A Better Way" campaign.Republicans' version of the ACA is the first of six parts of their "A Better Way" campaign.

A Better Way
On June 22, House Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled Republican's alternative to the ACA. Part of the "A Better Way" campaign, the plan is the first initiative in six years to hold an endorsement from House GOP leadership, according to Forbes.

The replacement program features a number of proposals, the Washington Post reported, including:

  • Allowing insurance companies to charge older people more and younger people less.
  • Establishing state-based high-risk pools for the sickest – and costliest – patients.
  • Restructuring Medicaid and Medicare to set caps on funding for state units, potentially shifting the cost to states, hospitals and beneficiaries.
  • Increasing the use of private health savings accounts (HSAs) to improve patients' understanding of the true cost of healthcare.
  • Creating a refundable tax credit for Americans who don't have employer-provided coverage.

A 'pre-existing condition" debate
One of the arguments behind the implementation of Obamacare was providing coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. The ACA included a regulation that said insurers couldn't deny insurance based on an already discovered sickness. As a result, however, many will wait until they're ill to buy ACA-compliant plans.

With the GOP's replacement, the vision is to combat potential rate hikes for those Americans who maintain continuous coverage instead of jumping in and out of insurance programs. This is where the high-risk pools come in. The House plan would fund these groups – which include people who truly can't afford insurance because of expensive, chronic ailments – with $25 billion. Although this may sound like a strong plan, the Washington Post claims these pools have a questionable record of providing affordable healthcare.

"The cost and effects on insured Americans are two unknowns of the Republican plan."

The cons
As time wears on and the presidential election continues to heat up, we will continue to see how this alternative changes in response to other proposals. This piece is the first – and perhaps the largest – in a six-part policy that GOP leaders hope will set them apart from nominee Donald Trump.

Repealing Obamacare has been the focus for Republicans in the years since the law's beginning, as opposed to replacing aspects they find troublesome. The "Better Way" element comes with uncertain costs and unidentified effects on Americans currently with insurance. Although the plan promises more options for people, it is less capable or predicting the kind of coverage and its affordability for Americans. Furthermore, 20 million people have gained insurance under the ACA, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The GOP is unsure of what outcomes their plan could cause. Would the program maintain, reduce or grow the level of coverage for Americans? That portion is yet to be predicted.

Next steps
Moving forward, the potential for a new healthcare initiative is unknown, as it's undecided who will take control of Congress and the White House. For the Republican plan to be passed, however, the GOP will have to engage in a series of trade-offs with other lawmakers and submit their proposal for a nonpartisan cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. The latter action will, most likely, expose long-term costs of the initiative. Further specific details of the plan will be worked out when President Obama is no longer in office, a senior House GOP leadership aide told The Hill.