American Health Care Act of 2017 Passes on a Vote of 217-213

May 4, 2017

American Health Care Act of 2017 Passes on a Vote of 217-213

On Thursday, May 4, 2017, the US House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act of 2017 on a largely party line vote
of 217-213. The bill was previously pulled from consideration in March when it was clear that Republicans were not able to garner a sufficient number of votes amongst conservative and some moderate members in order to secure passage.

Two important amendments were then added to the bill. The first allows States to obtain a waiver from the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) to provide essential health benefits. Those benefits as outlined by the ACA include, ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health treatment, prescription drugs, rehab services, lab services, preventative medicine, and pediatric services. The waivers are automatically approved unless The Department of Health and Human Services objects within 60 days. The amendment also allows States to charge older enrollees more than younger ones at a ratio higher than the 5:1 level specified in the original bill. This would presumably be done through high-risk pools.

The second amendment, offered just hours before the House vote, injects $8 billion into the system to subsidize premiums for those with preexisting conditions.

The bill now heads to the Senate where it will certainly undergo substantial modification.