ASU students, professors split on Republican healthcare replacement

According to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the proposed bill than under current law by 2018

The American Health Care Act, a bill written to replace the Affordable Care Act, received mixed reviews from Arizona health care professionals, students and professors.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan analysis agency for Congress, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the proposed bill than under current law by 2018. 

Arizona Healthcare and Hospital Association President Greg Vigdor said the association does not support the ACA replacement.  

“As an organization, we are here to represent patients,” Vigdor said. “The replacement bill in its current form does not do that so we are not here for it.”

The legislation halts the expansion of Medicaid and replaces ACA subsidies with tax credits while keeping popular features in place, like preventing denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s insurance plan until the age of 26.

“(Medicaid) is a crucial issue … particularly to both child bearing and childless adults,” Vigdor said. “Arizona voters voted in favor of Medicaid twice in 2013 and the Affordable Care Act helped us revive it.”

If language is introduced that preserves Medicaid expansion at the state level, it would improve the AHCA's chances at passing, Vigdor said.

On March 14, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the report lacked accuracy

“The Congressional Budget Office’s report is critical,” Vigdor said. “It’s not just an independent report, it’s a part of the process.”

Discussing the CBO’s numbers further, Vigdor said he was shocked when the analysis was worse than he anticipated. 

“I was shocked when we discovered the CBO's analysis was worse than what their own reports indicated,” Vigdor said. 

Kim Weidenaar, a faculty member of ASU's Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law, said she dismissed Republican push back against the CBO’s reports.

“(CBO) is usually very conservative in its estimates,” Weidenaar said. “When looking at something of this magnitude, they’re as accurate as an agency can be.”

In efforts to appease conservatives worried about the bill, Republican leaders and the White House released amendments to change the language of the AHCA.

In a meeting with Republican Congressmen March 21, Politico reported that President Donald Trump said, “I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018 if you don't get this done."

In the revisions on the bill made earlier this week, language was included requiring able bodied persons to participate in job-training programs. These amendments have not produced progress on the bills passing prospects. 

Thursday morning, House leaders canceled a planned Thursday night vote for the repeal bill, according to Politico.

Further sense of division on the replacement bill is seen through opinion of conservatives at ASU.

Kevin Calabrese, president of the College Republicans, said he's in agreement with a faction on conservatives in Congress that the replacement bill is a watered-down version of what House Speaker Paul Ryan promised to conservative voters.

“I am not a fan of the bill (Speaker) Paul Ryan is pushing to conservatives,” Calabrese said. 

Calabrese said he agreed with Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) comment about the bill being “Obamacare Lite.” 

"I'm a big fan of Rand Paul's plan to eliminate employer mandates drive down costs," Calabrese said.

He said he wants to see more conservative elements in the replacement healthcare bill. 

“I’d like to see a plan that gives people incentive to sign up through the private sector rather than public exchanges or marketplaces,” Calabrese said. 


Reach the reporter at rkeys1@asu.edu or follow @raymond_keys on Twitter.

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