House Passes GOP Health Care Bill as ObamaCare Goes on Life Support in Iowa

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The GOP’s revised health care bill passed the House of Representatives Thursday, and some Americans hope it is a sign of relief ahead as the ObamaCare marketplace continues to unravel in states across the country.

Shortly after the vote, President Donald Trump said ObamaCare is “dead.”

“The insurance companies are fleeing. It's been a catastrophe … It's essentially dead. If we don't pay lots of ransom money over to the insurance companies, it would die immediately,” Trump said during a victory speech at the White House following the health care vote.

Iowa is the latest state to fall victim to an exodus of insurance companies, where the last statewide insurer, Medica, is threatening to drop coverage.

“Without swift action by the state or Congress to provide stability to Iowa’s individual insurance market, Medica will not be able to serve the citizens of Iowa in the manner and breadth that we do today. We are examining the potential of limited offerings, but our ability to stay in the Iowa insurance market in any capacity is in question at this point,” the company said in a statement.

Last month Aetna (NYSE:AET) and Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield both said they would not sell plans on the ObamaCare exchanges next year in Iowa. Those two companies—neither of which offer coverage across the entire state—in combination with Medica, are the only insurance options available to the vast majority of Iowans this year. If all three companies were to exit the exchanges in 2018, just five of 99 counties would be covered.

During the most recent enrollment period, more than 52,000 Iowans signed up for coverage under ObamaCare, according to a press release from the program. Overall, more than 70,000 citizens in the state buy their coverage from the Affordable Care Act marketplace, according to the Des Moines Register.

Iowans aren’t the only Americans in danger of losing coverage if changes aren’t made to the health care law by 2018. Five states—Alaska, Alabama, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming— and 32 percent of counties nationwide have only one ObamaCare insurer covering individuals on the exchanges.

The Republicans’ revamped effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act advanced through the House of Representatives Thursday afternoon, after a pair of amendments helped draw the support of the House Freedom Caucus.

One of the important changes to the legislation is the MacArthur amendment, which allows states to opt out of the American Health Care Act’s original pre-existing conditions clause. As an addendum to that amendment, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced a second revision that provides $8 billion for high-risk pools in states that opt out of protections for pre-existing conditions.

While many agreed action was needed to remedy the ailing health care system, not everyone believes the American Health Care Act in its current form is the best solution. The American Medical Association criticized the House for the passage of the bill Thursday, claiming it would cause “millions of Americans” to lose coverage.

“The bill passed by the House today will result in millions of Americans losing access to quality, affordable health insurance and those with pre-existing health conditions face the possibility of going back to the time when insurers could charge them premiums that made access to coverage out of the question,” American Medical Association president Andrew W. Gurman said in a statement.

The bill will be subject to a vote and amendments in the Senate, so there still could be a long way to go before Americans see any relief.

Earlier this week, top ObamaCare insurer Molina Healthcare (NYSE:MOH) ousted two top executives from the family-run business, Mario and John Molina. In another sign of instability in the health care marketplace, Dr. Mario Molina had threatened to pull out of the ObamaCare exchanges at the end of last month if Congress didn’t step in to fund reimbursements for health care support provided to low income individuals.