In a marathon markup of the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, Republicans argued that a package of amendments unveiled Monday night would make the legislation more “patient-centered” by giving Americans more “choices” and “freedom” in the health care market.
But among the provisions increasing tax credits for older Americans and allowing states to impose work requirements on their Medicaid recipients, lawmakers tucked in a provision that limits the freedom and choices available for how people can spend the federal dollars meted out under the Republican plan.
Under the original GOP repeal bill, which replaces Obamacare’s subsidies with less-generous tax credits, people who didn’t use the full amount of their tax credit could have the balance rolled over into a Health Savings Account (HSA). They could then use that money to pay doctors’ office copays, buy medication, etc.
“We make sure they can use the HSA for what they need,” bill author and Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX).
But after conservative groups raised concerns that women could use some of this money to pay for an abortion, lawmakers inserted an amendment that entirely scrapped the possibility of rolling over those dollars. If the Rules Committee approves the amendment, low-income people who don’t use all of their tax credit dollars would lose the remainder.
The new provision comes on top of a host of abortion restrictions in the original bill. The American Health Care Act, among other provisions, bans women from using government tax credits to purchase any private insurance plan that covers abortion, discourages employers from offering insurance that covers abortion, and cuts more than $200 million dollars from Planned Parenthood over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office found that those cuts would result in a financial burden on Medicaid due to “several thousand” more unwanted pregnancies among women for whom the organization is the only birth control and family planning provider.