For those of you benefiting from health care plans through your place of employment, the news that Trumpcare had passed the House of Representatives on Thursday was perhaps not as earth-shattering as it was for others. You may have even breathed a sigh of relief that you have your employer plan to rely on. However, that's only because you haven't been made aware of an overlooked provision in the Trumpcare bill.
"They’re creating a backdoor way to gut employer plans, too," Andy Slavitt, who ran Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act under President Barack Obama, told The Wall Street Journal.
Policy experts like Slavitt are warning the public that, if Trumpcare is made into law, not a single American (with the exception of a wealthy choice few) will skate by unaffected.
Obamacare imposes "essential health benefits" upon insurance plans that includes services crucial for women and for those struggling with mental health issues. However, the Trumpcare provision would allow employers to opt out of meeting these standards and instead offer "benefits" based on the state's requirements. If the state has bare-bones health standards under Trumpcare, so could employers.
An article in Brookings further explains the risk:
"Suppose that even one state secured a waiver that allowed it to drop maternity services, mental health services, or prescription drugs from the definition of essential health benefits—a plausible scenario since these services were commonly not covered in individual market plans prior to the ACA and since waivers would be easy to obtain. In this case, a large employer plan that wanted to impose an annual or lifetime on limit on these services could simply adopt that state’s definition of essential health benefits… In a more extreme, but still plausible, scenario in which even one state elected to completely eliminate its essential health benefit standards, the requirement to provide these protections would effectively disappear entirely for large employer plans nationwide.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, almost half of Americans receive health care through their employer. If Trumpcare passes the Senate, over 100 million Americans stand to suffer severe health care losses, and that's not including the millions more who stand to lose their insurance thanks to huge cuts to Medicaid.
It's hard to believe anyone would advocate for this horrifying potential reality, except it isn't when you see how disconnected the GOP members of Congress are from the reality of most Americans.
The Senate will soon vote on another amendment along with Trumpcare, one that would exempt Republican lawmakers from losing existing consumer protections, i.e. they get to keep Obamacare and feed the rest of us to the dogs. Although Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-New Jersey), the creator of this convenient exemption, said that the party plans to close this loophole in the future, it's suspicious that it's there in the first place.
Needless to say, we won't be holding our breath, but we will be holding another election.