Here’s The One Significant Change Of The New Senate Obamacare Bill

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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The Senate released its revised bill to repeal major portions of Obamacare Monday morning, and it makes some significant changes to the original June 22 proposal.

1) Takes Out Obamacare’s Insurance Mandate, Replaces It With A Penalty

Under Obamacare, if you have the means to purchase health insurance but choose not to do so, you are required to pay a fee called the individual shared responsibility payment. In 2017, that fee is calculated either as a percentage of one’s household income, or per person (individuals pay whichever is higher).

The Senate version released Monday takes out the individual mandate and replaces it with a penalty for people who go without insurance. If the Senate passes the bill, people who choose to go without insurance for over 63 days will have a six-month waiting period imposed upon them before they can reenroll in the individual insurance market.

The amendment to the individual mandate comes after experts warned that dropping the Obamacare fine –a key provision of the original Senate bill — would lead to insolvency in the insurance marketplace, as younger, healthier people would not pay the penalty for forgoing health coverage.

2) Revised CBO Score

The Congressional Budget Office projected Monday evening that 22 million fewer people would have insurance by 2026 while reducing federal spending by $321 billion under the Senate GOP’s Obamacare repeal bill. (RELATED: CBO Releases Score For Revised Senate Health Care Bill)

The House bill, passed in early May, was originally expected to leave 24 million people without insurance, but was later amended to 23 million. The Senate’s version, after weeks of debate, is only anticipated to save an additional 1 million of the expected loss in the insurance market. (RELATED: Reports That 23 Million Americans Will Lose Health Care Are WAY Off)

Insurance companies responded to the bill almost immediately, calling on Congress to come invite them to the table for greater input.

“I had hoped the U.S. Senate would propose legislation that would be good for our communities and our hospitals. Instead, I’m left concerned that an estimated 22 million people, according to CBO, will lose coverage under this proposal,” CEO of Novant Health, an integrated health system with facilities across the South, Carl Armato said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I believe whatever ultimately comes out of Congress must include significant input from healthcare systems across the country. Novant Health is looking forward to the discussion.”

3) Features That Remain Unchanged In The Revised Version

The revised Senate bill keeps many of the provisions of the June 22 draft.

The new Senate bill, like the original, allows states to end the individual and employer mandates imposed under Obamacare, with the caveat of the imposed six month waiting period.

The revised version continues to include one of the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Under the Senate bill, individuals under the age of 26 would be allowed to stay on their parent’s health insurance.

The Senate bill does include tax credits, but the credits are only tied to income levels, like the original version. The credits would allow low-income consumers to obtain insurance coverage, although the plans will include fewer benefits and treatment options. Credits will also only be available to low-income consumers, and the bar will be set lower than it was under Obamacare.

It cuts many of the Obamacare taxes –tax on capital gains, etc. — and suspends the “Cadillac” tax placed on employers through 2025.

The new bill also eventually rolls back the federal funds granted to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion program. States will also be barred from expanding Medicaid after 2020. The states that have expanded Medicaid by the deadline will receive a smaller portion of federal funds, starting in 2021.

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