Since the inception of the Affordable Care Act, there have been unceasing efforts to downplay the benefits of the law, expose the loopholes in the working of the health reform, and repeal the act more than once. In a recent effort to improve Obamacare by repealing and replacing it with a health reform that is presumably better than PPACA, three republican senators – Richard Burr of North Carolina, Tom Coburn or Oklahoma, and Orrin Hatch of Utah – have revealed the Patient CARE act. The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment (CARE) Act is a proposal that replaces the fundamental points of PPACA with the Republicans’ own proposals.
However, a closer look at the proposal under the CARE act reveals that it is nothing more than a glorified private insurance exchange and is far from a fix that Obamacare currently needs. So, what is the CARE act about?
1) Establishing sustainable reforms – the Republicans widely feel that Obamacare is going to death spiral under its own weight. While that looks far from happening, the CARE act plans to implement common sense consumer protection plans that can be sustained over a longer period of time. With that, the Republicans also propose to create a new protection plan for patients with a pre-existing medical condition. However, they have missed the fact that how private health exchanges under Obamacare working towards normalizing the risk pool by enrolling younger, healthier individuals. The classic example here is that of eHealth private exchange, which boasts of a 40% enrollment rate of youngsters.
2) Modernizing Medicaid – Modernization of Medicaid for better coverage and care to patients through a capped allotment is one of the salient features of CARE act. While this capping might prove folly at this moment, it will give predictable funding and flexibility to states.
3) Capping Employer Provided Health Coverage – With an aim to reduce tax code distortions, the Republicans have proposed a cap on the tax exclusion granted to employers for employee health insurance.
4) Increasing Transparency in healthcare price – To affect a transparent system that delineates the healthcare price, the Republicans are proposing increased transparency to ensure that customer can make a better buying decision while purchasing health insurance.
However, as encouraging as the bulleted list above might look, the CARE act is going to do nothing to fix the promise of Obamacare. In fact, by adding these loopholes in ACA, the CARE act is only expanding the pain points for potential customers. For instance, the limit on Medicaid, the reduction in employer provided insurance, and the fiddling with the successful aspects of Obamacare – all these aspects are going to hamper the current setup of the American health reform.
Therefore, instead of repealing and replacing PPACA with CARE, a much astute solution would be retaining PPACA and fixing certain aspects, such as making the act more appealing to the young invincibles. For now, that’s what America needs for its health reform, instead of another attempt that is nothing more than a private exchange which plays by different rules.