The GOP’s American Health Care Act of 2017, which had the potential to impact many lower income students, stalled due to opposition from inside the party.
“Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not
Stephen Monaco, director of the Health Center, said that the most impactful change to students who get insurance through their parents is that spending caps would return. This means that an insurance company only has to cover a certain amount of health care costs. For instance, if a plan had an annual cap any medical expenses over that cap would need to be covered by the student.
According to Monaco, before the Affordable Care Act there were 800 students who were taking nine or more credit hours on Medicaid.
Last year, there were 2,800. The AHCA would lower the top-end income level necessary to qualify for Medicaid. It seems likely that the 2,000 extra students would no longer be eligible for medicaid.
Furthermore, the AHCA will remove the ACA’s requirement that plans cover essential health benefits, which include popular things like hospitalization. However, more controversial benefits like substance use disorder services are also covered. This would permit insurance customers more choice in what they want to pay for. However, it would also drive prices up for some of the less popular sections of the EHB, and some may not even be offered.
“It would be better to have the option. Because then, I feel like people would be more willing to pay into something if they had the option,” said MSU Denver student Abbie Beckwith.
MSU Denver student Dan Reuteur asked the core question at the heart of the debate. “Should everyone pitch in a little bit, to help everyone out, or should people be on their own for their own issues?”
He answered his own question.
“I have a preference more towards–pay a little bit now to help everyone out. That way, when you’re in that position, and a lot less able to work, you can have that support.”
The AHCA was refined in the Senate behind closed doors. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted to vote the bill through before the July 4 recess. The rapid pace that was forced on the bill was described as “kind of scummy,” by Beckwith.
However, after pushback from multiple senators, including Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner who had not yet had a chance to read the bill, the vote was delayed until after the recess. During this delay it grew more unpopular. On the night of July 17 the bill died after facing Republican defections from Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran from Kansas.
The AHCA would remove the individual mandate, which is part of the ACA that requires everyone to have insurance or pay a fine. Since the GOP is keeping the pre-existing condition protections the party needed to find a way to motivate people to stay on insurance. The solution they settled on was that if for more than two months customers did not have insurance, they would need to wait for six months after getting a new plan for it to come into effect.
Another common group of students are those who are on the Student Health Insurance Plan, or SHIP. Monaco intends to keep EHB coverage for SHIP and predicts that the plan will become more popular.
“We will ensure that the EHB will be maintained in SHIP regardless of what they do in D.C.,” Monaco guaranteed.