While the Senate was working on its own legislation to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, the House moved ahead with a second piece of legislation to further chip away at the landmark health care law.
On June 14, the House passed a bill that would allow tax credits extended under the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to be used to pay for COBRA plans.
The legislation, dubbed the Broader Choices for Americans Act, was passed in a 267 to 144 vote.
The move is a novel one considering that the same benefit was not extended in the ACA, but it was deemed unnecessary as it would be cheaper for individuals to obtain coverage on the exchanges instead.
But the AHCA would change the game dramatically and the House leadership said that people should be able to access affordable health care if they lose their job.
“Health care reform doesn’t stop with the American Health Care Act, and these bills will make our system fairer, better and cheaper,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said after the bill passed.
House Republicans said the measure was part of their Phase 3 of overhauling the nation’s health insurance system. Phase 1 was passage of the AHCA and Phase 2 is regulatory changes expected from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Phase 3 is actually four pieces of legislation:
- The aforementioned Broad Choices for Americans Act.
- The Verify First Act, which would bar illegal immigrants from receiving tax credits under the ACA or the AHCA.
- The Veterans Equal Treatment Ensures Relief and Access Now Act, which would allow veterans the choice to stay in the Veterans Affairs programs or instead get financial support for a private health care plan.
- The Protecting Access to Care Act, which would cap malpractice payouts at $250,000 for damages that don’t have a direct economic impact, like lost wages or medical expenses.