After repeatedly failing in their attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have developed another plan to destroy the health care law by including it in their controversial tax reform plan.
Senate Republicans have introduced a repeal of the individual mandate, a key piece of Obamacare that requires nearly all Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty.
If the GOP succeeds in getting rid of it, the Congressional Budget Office said about 4 million fewer people would be covered in the first year the repeal would take effect, and that would rise to 13 million by 2027.
Premiums would also rise by about 10 percent in most years of the decade, according to the CBO. Over 600,000 consumers signed up for plans on the law’s exchanges during the first week of enrollment, according to an ABC News report citing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
On average, roughly 150,000 people signed up each day during the first week of enrollment, compared to 84,000 last year. More than 9 million people in total signed up for health coverage on the federal Affordable Care Act exchanges last year, ABC reported.
“It’s by far the biggest start to open enrollment,” said Lori Lodes, co-founder of Get America Covered, an outreach program aimed at getting the word out that people can still enroll, despite cuts and confusion over the law’s future.
“There’s still a big question as to what’s happening now, what will happen next week, and can we continue to raise awareness so people know to take action before Dec. 15,” she said.
Health care advocates expressed concerns about enrollment numbers prior to the start date on Nov. 1. Health and Human Services slashed advertising and outreach dollars by 90 percent, shortened the enrollment period and introduced website outages from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. each Sunday during enrollment.
There have also been debates over repealing and replacing Obamacare and stabilizing the individual markets.
And at the White House, President Donald Trump stopped funding cost-sharing subsidies and declared Obamacare “dead.”
In the absence of sabotage, the Center for American Progress (CAP) projected a total of 12.2 million people would selected plans for 2018, consisting of about 8.1 million re-enrollees and 4.1 million new enrollees.
CAP officials said they believe this is a conservative estimate given that within days of Trump taking office, the new administration cut off HealthCare.gov advertising and signaled its intent to repeal the ACA.
Midway through last year’s open enrollment period, enrollment was surpassing the previous year’s levels.
Locally, the DC Health Link ramped up efforts this month to enroll residents, and in Maryland, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker urged residents who are uninsured or underinsured to take advantage of the enrollment period.
Republicans are pushing to finalize and pass tax reform after Thanksgiving.
“Ripping health care from people at the same time as jacking up their taxes,” Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) shouted at his Republican lawmakers during a hearing this month after learning of their latest plot to destroy Obamacare. “In addition to being a giveaway to the super-rich and big corporations, it now appears that the congressional Republican tax scheme will also sabotage our nation’s health care system.
“In order to finance tax giveaways to the wealthiest and biggest corporations, congressional Republicans are willing to raise taxes on many middle class families, eliminate vital deductions for [residents] and bring our health care system crashing down. It’s wrong and I will fight against it,” he said.