Revised Senate Health Plan Keeps Medicaid Cuts, Adds Money For Opioid Crisis

Jul 13, 2017

Credit healthcare.gov

It is unclear how many North Carolinians would be left uninsured under the updated Senate health bill. It was estimated that an earlier version of the bill would increase the uninsured population across the country by 22 million over the next decade.

One of the big changes to the Senate health care proposal is that insurers would be allowed to offer bare bones plans on the exchanges that don’t cover all of the essential health benefits as long as they also offer a more robust plans. Matt Fiedler with the Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank, said that could create a two tier system. He argues it would effectively defeating the point of insurance

“The core function of an insurance market is to pool risk between the healthy and the sick,” Fiedler said. “So if you have healthier people in one market paying a lower premium and sicker people in another market paying a higher premium you have not fulfilled that objective.”

Another part of the bill tries to make up for the increased risk, by offering money to insurers to have more expansive plans. Other changes include $4.5 billion for ten years for opioid treatment and recovery support services. But the revised legislation still includes large cuts to Medicaid which concerns Don Jonas with Care Ring, a clinic that serves low income people in Mecklenburg County. He is worried about an increase in demand.

“We don’t have capacity right now to cover the needs,” Jonas said. “There are far too many individuals who don’t have access to care and there is at least the potential that we would have an overflowing output of interest.”

The revised plan would also keep some of the Affordable Care Act taxes on Americans who make over $200,000 and couples who make more than $250,000. A Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill is expected next week.