In the days since Congressional Republicans narrowly passed a new health care bill through the House, millions of people have been desperately trying to educate themselves about the potential impact. As President Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and other members of the GOP celebrated their small victory on the grounds of the White House, there was little talk of the grim reality many Americans might face if the American Health Care Act (AHCA) were to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as it is now written. Parents are asking themselves, for instance, whether or not their kids will lose their insurance under the AHCA, and how they can protect their child's health if the ACA is truly repealed in the near future.
According to a non-partisan study conducted by the Congressional Budget Office in March, the AHCA would see 24 million Americans without access to health care within the next 10 years. Some of the people who would be hardest hit by the AHCA if it were to pass in its current form (and that's still a very serious if) would be Americans who suffer from pre-existing conditions.
After the initial attempt to pass the AHCA crashed and burned in March, largely due to the hyper-conservative House Freedom Caucus, an amendment was added to the bill in April by New Jersey GOP Rep. Tom MacArthur. According to Vox, the MacArthur Amendment would essentially allow states to opt out of Obama-era protections that kept insurance providers from charging sick people more money for health insurance.
Parents of children who suffer from pre-existing conditions like diabetes, congenital heart conditions, mental disorders, epilepsy, and more could see their health insurance costs rise exponentially; Time reported that health insurance costs for those with pre-existing conditions could reach as high as over $25,000 per year. While states that choose to allow insurers to charge more for people with pre-existing conditions must offer the option to allow patients to buy into a high-risk insurance pool, these pools have traditionally run into issues in the past. (Like not having enough money to pay for medical costs, and still charging considerably higher rates for health insurance.)
If the AHCA were passed in the Senate, it would be more than just children with pre-existing conditions who would be affected. Children with chronic conditions will no longer benefit from Obamacare's elimination of "lifetime limits," which allowed insurers to set a cap on how much they were willing to spend on a patient within a lifetime. For children who suffer from chronic illnesses, the traditional cap of $1 million to $2 million could add up quickly, as in the case of 6-year-old Timmy Morrison. According to Vox, Timmy was born seven weeks premature. And his health care costs hit $1 million by the time he was 6 months old.
Finally, children who live in low-income households that don't qualify for Medicaid expansion tax credits will suffer if the AHCA is passed. While families with a higher-income would see their tax credits go up with the AHCA, low-income families would see their own subsidies decline.
Essentially, the AHCA would have a disastrous affect on sick children with pre-existing or chronic conditions and children living in low-income households. Hopefully the Senate will put an end to the current version of AHCA before it's too late.