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Home ACA Reform House GOP Passes CHOICE Act

House GOP Passes CHOICE Act

3 minute read
by Robert Sheen
House GOP Passes CHOICE Act

House Republicans recently passed a package of health insurance bills, known as the CHOICE Act, intended to reduce health insurance costs for certain businesses and consumers. The proposed reforms would roll back some consumer protections provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, while focusing on expanding health care choices for insurance customers. 

However, the reforms are unlikely to become law while the Senate is controlled by Democrats. 

Still, the CHOICE Act is an important policy stake in the ground for a party looking to present itself as a party with solutions, not just a vocal critic of the ACA. 

What Would the CHOICE Act Do?

Healthcare legislation is complex, but an extremely simple explanation of the CHOICE Act is that it’s designed to improve the American healthcare system through increased reliance on the free market and decreased reliance on the federal government. In contrast to the ACA’s focus on government-funded programs and regulations, the CHOICE Act’s supporters say the bill’s encouragement of freer markets in the health insurance industry will encourage competition and efficiency. This, they believe, will reduce costs and improve the experience of insurance customers. 

Supporters of the CHOICE Act say the legislation will expand access to short-term health insurance plans, allow more insurers to offer coverage in the individual market and encourage states to create their own healthcare reform models. 

The CHOICE Act’s critics say the legislation is a step in the wrong direction. They’re particularly concerned about  the plan’s proposals to eliminate some of the ACA’s consumer protections–like its pre-existing condition requirements and essential health benefits standards. 

Will the CHOICE Act Become Law?

It’s unlikely. At least not in the near term. Republicans control the House. However, with Democrats now in control of the Senate and a Democrat in the White House with the power to veto legislation, it is unlikely that these reforms will become law anytime soon. 

House GOP leadership is well aware of the chances the CHOICE Act has of becoming law. Still, drafting and passing legislation tackling a complex problem like healthcare reform is an opportunity for the party to make a unified and detailed proposal to the American people of how the GOP would fix what they say is a broken healthcare system. It also serves as a tool to help frame the party’s healthcare policy going into the future.

What Alternative Models is the GOP Considering?

Policy experts from Stanford’s Hoover Institution have proposed a new free-market health care plan known as “Choices for All” that could help bridge the divide between the ACA and the CHOICE Act.  

The “Choices for All” combines aspects of both the ACA and CHOICE Act by offering insurance consumers more options while also protecting them from surprise medical bills and other healthcare costs. The Choices for All plan would allow insurers to offer coverage across state lines, create incentives for states to reduce healthcare costs, and remove certain geographic restrictions on coverage availability. The plan would also allow states to reform Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program eligibility rules and provide incentives for insurers to offer lower-cost plans. 

Ultimately, it remains to be seen whether either the CHOICES Act or the Choices for All plan (or some future iteration of one of them) will gain traction in Congress or become law. This is certainly unlikely while Democrats–who oppose both policies–retain control of the Senate and Presidency. Still, both plans are likely to serve as important frameworks as future GOP healthcare policy evolves.

In the meantime, employers should continue to stay informed about new reforms that could impact their obligations under the ACA or that might fundamentally change or eliminate the ACA itself.

Need help understanding these implications and how current and future laws impact you?. We can help. Contact us today for more information! 

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House GOP Passes CHOICE Act
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House GOP Passes CHOICE Act
Discover the House Republicans CHOICE Act -- a health insurance package aiming to reduce costs and expand choices. Learn its implications and future prospects.
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