Health officials in Delaware say the Republican plan to repeal Affordable Care Act would strip coverage and increase the number of uninsured in the state.
The American Health Care Act has pros and cons for Delaware. It would reduce federal healthcare funding for the state, but it would provide Delaware with flexibility to cut costs.
“We appreciate the flexibility that could be granted, but decreased funding when you already have a program that is being tightened at the state and federal level is really challenging," said Kara Odom Walker, secretary of Delaware’s Dept. of Health and Social Services.
Under the Republican plan, states can loosen regulations on insurers to deal with a reduction in federal funding.
States can seek waivers to let insurers sell plans that don’t cover the essential benefits defined under the Affordable Care Act. These are things like emergency care, maternity and mental health coverage.
States can also opt out of a provision that bans insurers from charging sicker people and anyone with a preexisting condition more.
This could make plans more affordable for young, healthy people. But someone with cancer may only be able to find an outrageously expensive plan that doesn’t cover chemotherapy.
“The way that we’re reading it now is that it would push more people to have less coverage and it would likely increase the number of people who are uninsured,” Walker said.
It's most immediate impact would be throwing 11,000 Delawareans off an expansion of Medicaid. These are people who make too much (between 100% and 138% of the federal poverty level) to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to earn subsidies (tax credits under the AHCA) to buy plans on the Obamacare marketplaces.
In essence, it would be a return to the way things were before Obamacare, which is exactly what many Republicans in Congress would like.