Four pairs of hands holding green quote sign labeled “Healthcare Reform”

Our president-elect is the Republican candidate Donald Trump, and the Republican Party and Trump have proposed an overhaul of the healthcare system. After meeting with President Obama last week about healthcare reform, Trump told the Wall Street Journal  that he is willing to consider keeping two portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in place: pre-existing condition protections and coverage for children up to age 26 on their parents’ health insurance policies.

The Republicans had already recommended keeping these two portions of the ACA in the better.gop policy paper that was published in June 2016 detailing plans for healthcare reform. Trump’s campaign website also states some of the same positions that are in the policy paper and a few more. According to these sources, here are 8 healthcare reforms that the Republicans and Trump proposed before his most recent meeting with President Obama.

What Is Trumpcare?

  1. Repeal Obamacare.
  2. Offer “more choices, lower costs, and greater flexibility.”
  3. Require healthcare providers to be transparent about pricing.
  4. Make individual health insurance premiums tax deductible.
  5. Support fair treatment and strengthen coverage options.
  6. Enable drug providers to enter free markets.
  7. Promote healthcare innovation.
  8. Keep Medicare running.

To learn more about these Trumpcare  proposals and how they could affect your coverage, read on.

1. Repeal Obamacare.

The Republican Party would repeal Obamacare — which includes eliminating the individual mandate — and replace it with other healthcare reforms that the party thinks will perform better than Obamacare. These new healthcare reforms would be provided as “multiple pieces of straightforward legislation,” and the transition would be step-by-step.

2. Offer “More Choices, Lower Costs, and Greater Flexibility.”

This plan would remove the federal government’s influence on the benefits required in health plans, eliminate the tax penalty for not having health insurance, and possibly encourage a competitive health insurance marketplace, which Republicans believe could increase quality and drive down costs. In short, putting the individual back in charge, and allowing states to regulate, are the main healthcare reform goals. The Republican Party has provided these policy recommendations:

  • Bolster consumer-directed healthcare options, such as health savings accounts (HSAs) combined with high-deductible health plans. HSAs for individuals also have been proposed.
  • Allow small businesses and other organizations to pool together to negotiate lower-cost health plans.
  • Allow financial support for health coverage to be taken from job to job and beyond.
  • Maintain employee wellness programs.
  • Keep employer-sponsored health insurance intact.
  • Allow employers to self-insure and control their healthcare funds.
  • Allow coverage to be purchased across state lines to encourage full competition in the market.
  • Reform medical liability, including “caps on non-economic damage awards.”

3. Require Healthcare Providers to be Transparent About Pricing.

Trump’s campaign website says that healthcare providers (doctors, hospitals, etc.) should be transparent about pricing so that individuals can “shop to find the best prices for … exams or any other medical-related procedure.”

4. Make Individual Health Insurance Premiums Tax Deductible.

If businesses are able to deduct the cost of health insurance premiums from their taxes, Trump’s campaign website says, then individuals also should be allowed to “fully deduct health insurance premium payments from their tax returns under the current tax system.”

5. Support Fair Treatment and Strengthen Coverage Options.

Without putting in place too many regulations, the Republicans still want to ensure certain protections for the American consumer with healthcare reform. These policy recommendations have been provided to help ensure fair treatment of Americans by health insurance companies:

  • Continue the ACA’s guaranteed-issue provision to safeguard those with pre-existing conditions.
  • Fix the way premiums are adjusted “by limiting the cost of an older individual’s plan to no more than five times what a younger person pays in premiums.” The ACA currently permits no more than a factor of three, which means that rates will vary more widely between the young and the old.
  • Continue the ACA’s provision that allows children up to age 26 to be covered under their parents’ health insurance policies.
  • Reward states with grants when their innovation leads to reduced premiums.
  • Fund high-risk pool programs and cap premiums for pool participants.
  • Ensure coverage protections (e.g., an insurance company would not be allowed to cancel coverage or not renew a plan just because someone covered under the plan becomes sick).
  • Offer a “one-time open enrollment period for individuals to join the healthcare market if they are uninsured, regardless of how sick or healthy they are.”
  • Apply continuous coverage protections — which currently apply to employer health plans — to individual health plans also.
  • Give healthcare providers the ability to protect life and exercise their conscience.

6. Enable Drug Providers to Enter Free Markets

Trump’s campaign website says that drug providers should be allowed to enter free markets without the current barriers that are in place because those drug companies are ultimately offering a public service. “Allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers.”

7. Promote Healthcare Innovation.

This idea builds upon the 21st Century Cures Act, which seeks to “accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of new treatments and cures.” The Republican Party plans to increase funding to the National Institute of Health (NIH) to spur innovation. By increasing funding to the NIH, the Republican Party hopes to lower costs and improve treatment by streamlining “how new treatments are developed, tested, and ultimately approved by the FDA.”

8. Keep Medicare Running.

While the concept is simple, the process to keep Medicare running will have more than one step. In fact, the Republican healthcare reforms proposed in order to stabilize and preserve Medicare have 3 steps in mind.

  1. Repeal Medicare provisions that some say have been damaging.
  2. Update payment systems and be more responsive to the needs of patients.
  3. Ensure care for future generations by making Medicare sustainable now.

In the policy paper, the Republican Party has provided several recommendations for this healthcare reform.

  1. Immediate Repeal of Certain Obamacare Provisions
    • Strengthen Medicare Advantage (MA)
    • Repeal Independent Payment Advisory Board
    • Repeal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation
    • Repeal ban on physician-owned hospitals
    • Repair hospital wage index system (repeal of the “Bay State Boondoggle”)
  2. Structural Reforms
    • Medicare Advantage (MA) Value-Based Insurance Design Model
    • Medigap reform
    • Combining Medicare Parts A & B
    • Protecting the patient-doctor relationship
    • Uncompensated care reform
    • MA & fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare performance parity
  3. Preserving Medicare for Future Generations
    • Premium support. This part of the proposal includes creating a Medicare Exchange that would allow eligible individuals to choose from private plans and traditional FFS Medicare. “Medicare would provide a premium support payment either to pay for or offset the premium of the plan chosen by the beneficiary, depending on the plan’s cost.”

An Additional Goal: Medicaid Reform

While there is more than one approach to reforming Medicaid mentioned, the Republican Party and Trump’s campaign site have stated that limiting federal funding and increasing state responsibility for the Medicaid program is a priority. Bringing the program into the 21st Century, they say, would help limit quality shortfalls, fraud, and overspending.

Acknowledgments Also Worth Mentioning

The Republicans have acknowledged 4 healthcare reforms they see as successful, according to the policy paper published in June. These include:

  1. HSAs and consumer-directed healthcare
  2. Medicare Advantage
  3. Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage
  4. Quality reporting and paying for value

You may see increased flexibility for these with new healthcare reforms.

Should You Still Enroll for 2017 Coverage?

Yes. Changing an entire healthcare system takes time. The president-elect has proposed big changes, but Trumpcare won’t be in place for some time. Even if the government makes changes to health plans during the year, customers have the right to cancel their plans at any point. So if healthcare reform affects your plan, you will not be negatively affected by enrolling during this open enrollment period. For now, Obamacare is still law. So, tax penalties for not having health insurance coverage are also still in place.

 

This means that you should make sure not to miss the deadline to enroll in 2017 health insurance coverage. The open enrollment period is underway, and subsidies are still available for those who are eligible. To enroll now, call HealthMarkets today at (800) 304-3414.

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References

http://abetterway.speaker.gov/_assets/pdf/ABetterWay-HealthCare-PolicyPaper.pdf | https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/healthcare-reform

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