Even though the House Republicans were not successful in passing the American Health Care Act (AHCA), they did pass two major health reform bills recently in their efforts to make healthcare in the US better. The reform bills passed by the House Republicans concentrate on separate issues from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A three-phase strategy was earlier proposed by the Republicans in order to replace and repeal ACA.
According to the proposal, the first phase will be the budget reconciliation process whereas the second phase will see regulatory changes by the federal agencies. The traditional legislation, which could not be included in the initial phases, will be incorporated into the final or third phase. The two reform bills passed by the Republicans falls under the final phase of broader health reform policies.
The Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2017, H.R. 1101, will create a fresh legal mechanism in order to create Association Health Plans (AHP). In fact, the concept of allowing the associations to sponsor its own health care plans has been one of the major health reform ideas put forward by the Republicans for several years.
Reports indicate that the passed bill will be governing the AHPs under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), but they will have their own specific regulations. Further, these proposed plans would be excused from many ACA regulations like the essential health benefit requirements. However, it will be still subject to a few ACA provisions, which includes the prevention from denying coverage based on preexisting situations. Reports also state that a board of directors will supervise these plans.
The second bill passed by the Republicans was H.R. 372, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017, and it received near-unanimous support from the members. The existing law excludes the “business of health insurance” from some federal antitrust laws as well.
Most of the states usually enjoy the authority to choose health insurance’s antitrust standard within their borders. However, this protection is not applicable to mergers. Reports state that the Republicans are hopeful that the second bill will get rid of some exemptions for promoting greater competition in the health insurance industry.
Both of the bills are awaiting action in the Senate currently. Insiders report that there is a possibility that the House Republicans may implement additional legislation in order to add it to their phase three action.