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The MacArthur Amendment Doesn't Do What It Claims

With the latest installment of the Republican health care bill passing in the United States House of Representatives today, there are a lot of questions being raised about what exactly will happen it it also passes in the Senate. As it stands, the Republican American Health Care Act (AHCA) that seeks to replace Obamacare is a stark representation of "affordable" health care. The new bill categorizes a long list of conditions as "pre-existing," including sexual assault and C-section births, under the MacArthur Amendment (though Republicans continue to claim that the AHCA will still cover the majority of American). So, does the MacArthur Amendment actually ensure pre-existing conditions are covered? Not exactly.

The MacArthur Amendment, penned by Republican Tom MacArthur, works to allow states to "request permission to waive many of the constraints Obamacare placed on insurers, such as its ban on discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, or its list of essential benefits that must be included in any plan, including pregnancy and emergency care."

Basically, the amendment makes it possible for states to decide if they want to cover citizens with pre-existing conditions, which include arthritis, domestic abuse, and anxiety, just to name a few. And while Republican lawmakers claim that the MacArthur Amendment serves the best interests of the American people, that's not exactly true.

Under the ACA, insurance providers couldn't deny coverage to someone just because they have a pre-existing condition. However, the MacArthur amendment completely erases that mandate, leaving it up to each state to determine whether or not they want to "waive protections for those with preexisting conditions as long as they come up with some alternative way of making insurance available," according to The Los Angeles Times.

As stated, it may seem that an "alternative way of making insurance available," is a viable option, and that Ryan is correct in his claims. But, the MacArthur Amendment also allows insurance providers to raise their rates for those with pre-existing conditions, meaning someone with cancer might not be able to afford their treatment. In other words, if states waive protections, those with pre-existing conditions may find themselves in a quandary.

Clearly, the AHCA isn't perfect, and even though it only passed in the House by a narrow margin, there is still a reasonable chance that it could pass in the Senate, as is.

While Republicans may claim that the MacArthur Amendment protects those with pre-existing conditions, that simply isn't true. Don't let the complex language fool you: The AHCA is not a suitable replacement to the ACA, at least not in its current form.