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AHCA Defeat Is Not the End of Repeal Efforts, Analysts Say

By Doug Desjardins  
   April 03, 2017

The Trump administration will likely chip away at healthcare reform through administrative actions to reduce subsidies and weaken health insurance exchanges.

This story originally appeared in California Healthfax.

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) may have been scrapped, but that doesn't mark the end of efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Instead, opponents will likely take a piecemeal approach to dismantling the ACA through administrative action, analysts said.

The Trump administration is unlikely to renew its push to repeal and replace the ACA through a single bill like the AHCA, but may attempt to water down elements of healthcare reform through administrative actions designed to reduce federal subsidies and weaken health insurance exchanges.

The War Isn't Over
"This is an enormous, significant defeat, but I don't think the war on the ACA is over yet," said Gerald Kominski, PhD, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

"Of course, the White House can disrupt the Affordable Care Act by issuing regulations that destabilize the market and make it more difficult to renew [coverage] or enroll for the first time."

In January, the Trump administration took actions along those lines when it cut federal funds designed to help state health exchanges advertise and reach consumers with notices about the annual deadline for open enrollment.

The Trump administration could attempt to reduce or eliminate federal subsidies and take other actions to weaken state and federal health insurance exchanges, said Micah Weinberg, president of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

AHCA Changes Could Have Cost California $24 Billion by 2027

"First, the Trump administration needs to decide whether they want to burn down the house we're all living in through regulatory actions that will end the viability of the exchanges," said Weinberg. "If they want to destroy the thing, they can. So the ACA is very much not out of the woods."

One potential problem for the ACA is a pending lawsuit that could significantly reduce or eliminate cost-sharing funds for low-income consumers.


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