The Affordable Care Act repeal is still in early stages. There will be many changes between now and the final version of the bill as it moves through the House and the Senate before it hits the White House. Still, it’s worth looking at ways treatment may be impacted if the repeal moves into law.
The New York Times compared Obama’s Affordable Care Act to the new proposal, outlining the differences. We’ll start with those changes and then segue into aphasia-specific aspects to the bill.
Overview: The National Aphasia Association’s Infographic of the Two Plans
Under the Affordable Care Act, people who didn’t get insurance faced tax penalties. The new bill instead proposes that those who let their insurance lapse will face a 30% penalty for 12 months when they sign up again for insurance. Companies with more than 50 full-time employees who do not provide affordable health insurance to employees will no longer have a penalty.
Lastly, tax credits to help pay for individual plan insurance will be only based on income and age, decreasing help for lower income people. Along with that, the repeal removes all cost-sharing help to cover deductibles or co-pays.
The new bill allows an increase in payments to health savings accounts.
Insurers can charge older Americans five times more than younger Americans for premiums, which means higher insurance costs. (The old ACA capped the discrepancy at three times more.)
All the popular parts of President Obama’s plan remain in place with the new bill. The repeal allows kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26 years old. People can’t be penalized for pre-existing conditions, and insurers cannot set lifetime limits.
The new bill shrinks Medicaid. Additionally, as of 2020, Medicaid coverage for mental health or substance abuse will no longer be required. The new bill also puts Planned Parenthood on a one-year funding freeze which would shrink their ability to offer cancer screenings and other necessary health care services to women.
Aphasia-Specific Aspects of the Bill
President Obama’s plan created 10 essential health benefits (EHB) that all insurance plans need to cover. One of the 10 EHB points is coverage of “rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices,” which includes speech therapy.
Health care services that help a person keep, get back or improve skills and functioning for daily living that have been lost or impaired because a person was sick, hurt or disabled. These services may include physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology and psychiatric rehabilitation services in a variety of inpatient and/or outpatient settings.
Health care services that help a person keep, learn or improve skills and functioning for daily living. Examples include therapy for a child who isn’t walking or talking at the expected age. These services may include physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology and other services for people with disabilities in a variety of inpatient and/or outpatient settings.
Of course, anyone who has used insurance knows that coverage varies from state to state and from plan to plan. Still, it’s important as this bill moves through Congress to note the status of the EHB section. There is a lot of discussion on how this section will look with possibilities ranging from unchanged to the benefits in place but costing patients a lot more to access coverage.
Research proves that intensive speech therapy helps with aphasia, even when started months after a stroke. Patients can benefit from intensive speech therapy for years to come. It is important that insurance keeps covering speech therapy. Ideally, coverage would increase under the new plan.
We’ll be keeping an eye on those benefits and updating this article as news emerges. Bookmark this post for easy access to these updates in the future.
What is on your mind as you read about the Affordable Care Act repeal?
Update: 3/13/17 7:15 pm:
The first objective report is out about the proposed health plan. The Washington Post writes,
According to a Congressional Budget Office projection, 14 million fewer people would have health insurance next year alone. Premiums would be 15 percent to 20 percent higher in the first year compared with the Affordable Care Act and 10 percent lower on average after 2026. By and large, older Americans would pay “substantially” more and younger Americans less, the report said.