After several days of mystery and voting for and against amendments on a bill that doesn’t really exist, Republican leadership in the Senate has finally released the text of the Health Care Freedom Act, better known as the “skinny” Obamacare repeal bill.
The Senate Budget Committee released the bill [PDF] via Twitter shortly after 10 p.m. ET on Thursday night. We presume they were waiting to see who was evicted from Big Brother.
The 8-page bill does the following:
• Negates the “individual mandate” — the requirement that all people must have some form of insurance or pay a penalty — by reducing the penalty for not having insurance to $0. This appears to be effective immediately and retroactive to the beginning of 2016.
• Negates the “employer mandate” — the requirement that businesses of a certain size must provide full-time employees with qualifying coverage — by reducing the penalty for not having insurance to $0. This appears to be effective immediately and retroactive to the beginning of 2016.
• Delays the current tax on medical device manufacturers, retroactively to the beginning of 2017, and through 2020.
• Allows for increased maximums on Health Savings Accounts, starting in 2018.
• Denies federal funds to Planned Parenthood (or any similar program, but the definition is so specific that it’s really just Planned Parenthood) for one year.
• Shuts down all funding to the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provides funding to a variety of public health concerns, like Alzheimer’s research, diabetes prevention, heart disease prevention, anti-smoking initiatives, immunization, scientific support for state and local officials to detect and respond to outbreaks, and much more. This fund is about 15% of the entire budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Funding would end starting in 2018, with no replacement offered.
• Allows states to seek “innovation” waivers. These waivers would give states the option of allowing insurers to not comply with several aspects of Obamcare, including the requirement that all plans must cover certain “Essential Health Benefits.”
• Additional funding for the Community Health Center Fund for 2017.
We are still reading the bill and will continue to update. More to come…