Congressional Republicans are leading a push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and while it's unlikely such legislation will pass the president's desk, the move may provide a symbolic rallying call for ACA opponents.
The legislation would repeal significant sections of the ACA, including the requirement that individuals and large employers purchase insurance or face fines. The bill would also eliminate federal Medicaid expansions as well as subsidies for qualifying low-income policyholders who purchase insurance through federal or state exchanges. Additionally, the law would remove all federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
"The legislation would repeal significant sections of the ACA."
However, as Insurance Journal noted, some aspects of the ACA would be preserved by the proposed legislation. Conservative lawmakers have not found fault with ACA restrictions that require insurers set premiums and offer coverage without regard to the policyholder's pre-existing conditions.
While President Barack Obama has already announced his intent to veto the legislation, the bill may still speak to the growing unpopularity of the ACA. Speaking with The New York Times, Bill Hoagland, senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center and a former Republican member of the Senate Budget Committee, said the law represents American frustration with high health care costs and limited provider options under the ACA.
"This will only be the eight veto of Obama's tenure as president."
"This is a big deal," Hoagland told the Times. "This vote sends the signal to the president and the American people there are changes that need to be made in this law."
As the Times reported, this will only be the eighth veto of Obama's tenure as president. The publication also noted the White House has expressed frustration that resistance to the ACA continues even as coverage has grown to cover more than 17 million uninsured Americans and many aspects of the law, including the ability to extend coverage to the policyholder's children, have been popular.
Health insurers still experiencing losses
As Business Insurance noted, so far the ACA has not been profitable for health insurance providers. Many insurers have reported losses, including UnitedHeath Group Inc., which announced it may leave the exchange in 2017. Nearly half of the marketplace's co-ops have also failed due to high losses.
However, some of that may change as the exchange matures and insurers have access to more data that allows them to adjust prices accordingly. According to Business Insurance, many policyholders who purchased insurance from the marketplace were higher-risk and more frequent users of medical care, which led to higher losses for providers. It's likely insurers will also implement measures to reduce losses, including raising premiums, reducing provider networks and no longer offering gold and platinum plans.
Speaking with Business Insurance, Neal Freedman, an analyst with Standard & Poor's, said the marketplace will likely experience several changes in the next few years, but losses should begin to stabilize for insurers soon after. According to Freedman's analysis, more stability and long term sustainability is expected to develop between the end of year three and the beginning of year five of open enrollment.