While the Senate has spent some time drafting the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) isn't really any better than the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the version of the bill that passed the House earlier this year. In fact, one overlooked detail in the BCRA could potentially stop millions from buying insurance, and that's not okay. In short, people who have become uninsured (for whatever reason) or have a lapse in coverage would have to wait a full six months before they would be able to apply for a new individual insurance plan. And that's just the beginning.
After the AHCA was narrowly passed in the U.S. House of Representatives back in early May, it was sent along to the Senate, where lawmakers battled over the possible legislation. Since then, amendments have been made to the original bill, but it's still problematic. Not only would the BCRA allow "insurers to charge older customers up to five times more than young people," per Quartz, but, as stated, it would also make it significantly harder to obtain coverage for anyone with a lapse in coverage, for any reason, even if it's out of their control.
Last Thursday, the Senate released its first draft of the BCRA, hoping to push it to a vote before the Fourth of July recess, but this Monday, they added one last amendment. According to BuzzFeed:
Under the amendment, starting on January 1, 2019, anyone who has not been continuously insured for a full year and wants to buy an insurance plan on the individual market must first wait six months. Anyone who goes at least 63 days without health insurance would be subject to this wait time. There are currently around 29 million people without health insurance.
To sum it up, someone who lost their job, and therefore their insurance, will have to get a new job within 63 days from the time their coverage runs out before facing the above penalty. Additionally, someone who can't afford insurance, or runs into hurdles along the way which prevent them from obtaining it, will still have to wait the six months to enroll.
For now, the BCRA's fate is fairly uncertain. More and more Republican Senators are taking steps away from the bill, and it definitely doesn't have any support from Democrats. Hopefully, the legislation won't pass, or the six-month penalty amendment will be scrapped if it is. Because no one deserves to be punished for something they can't control. Those 29 million Americans who are uninsured deserve a fair chance at coverage, and the BCRA isn't the answer.