Protections for sick Americans, once declared sacrosanct, now on chopping block in Obamacare repeal bills

President Trump and congressional Republicans, despite repeated pledges to preserve sick Americans’ access to health coverage, are poised to scrap this core insurance protection in their campaign to roll back the Affordable Care Act.

Both the House GOP bill that passed in May and the revised Senate GOP bill unveiled last week effectively eliminate the coverage guarantee by allowing health insurers to once again sell skimpier plans and charge more to people with preexisting health conditions who need more-comprehensive coverage.

At the same time, the House and Senate bills dramatically scale back financial aid to low- and moderate-income consumers, and slash funding for Medicaid, the government safety-net plan that has helped millions of sick and poor Americans gain coverage.

That combination — looser insurance requirements and less financial assistance for patients — will once again put health plans out of reach for millions of sick Americans, according to numerous analyses.

“The fundamental guarantee at the heart of the Affordable Care Act was that people who are sick can get insurance at the same price as everyone else,” said Larry Levitt, an insurance market expert at the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. “The House and Senate replacement bills move the system back to a place where healthy and sick people are treated very differently.”

Obamacare vs. Trumpcare: A side-by-side comparison of the Affordable Care Act and the GOP’s replacement plan »

The Senate bill was enveloped by more uncertainty Saturday night when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced he was delaying action on the measure because fellow Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona was recovering from surgery for a blood clot.

Republicans have a 52-48 majority in the Senate, and McConnell can afford to lose only two Republicans if the bill is to advance. The Senate had been scheduled to begin voting on its healthcare bill this week, and GOP…

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