Last week, Republicans in the House of Representatives released a summary of a proposed amendment to the American Health Care Act, which they hope will help the bill garner enough votes to pass. The amendment is intended to appeal to both moderate Republicans and members of the Freedom Caucus.
The so-called “MacArthur Amendment,” spearheaded by Representative Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC), aims to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions by retaining various popular components of the Affordable Care Act:
- Reinstating essential health benefits as the federal standard;
- Prohibiting coverage denial due to preexisting medical conditions;
- Prohibiting discrimination based on gender;
- Guaranteeing coverage and renewability of coverage to all applicants;
- Covering dependents on parents’ health insurance plans up to age 26; and
- Following community rating rules, subject to limited waivers.
The MacArthur Amendment would allow states to seek waivers from the essential health benefits and community rating rules requirements, except for certain community rating rules categories which cannot be waived (such as gender). A state seeking a waiver would have to be able to demonstrate the waiver would reduce the cost of premiums in the state, increase the state’s number of insured individuals, and/or otherwise benefit the public interest of the state.
It is possible that Congress could vote on the MacArthur Amendment as early as this week, though it remains unclear whether Congressional Budget Office scoring will be completed by this time. Voting this week may also be delayed due to Congressional deliberation on the federal budget.