Trending News Today: AHCA Could Lower Premiums for Younger People

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

After the US Congressional Budget Office projected that 14 million Americans would lose medical insurance by next year under the American Health Care Act (AHCA) replacement plan, shares of hospitals and health insurers fell. On Tuesday, HCA Holdings stocks fell 1.6%, Tenet Healthcare dropped 4.2%, Community Health Systems slipped 1.5%, and LifePoint Health is down 1.3%, according to The New York Times. Ana Gupte, analyst at Leerink Partners, told the NY Times, “The Street is reacting to the uncertainty around [the bill], and the possibility of more challenges ahead.” In addition to hospital stocks, health insurers also saw a drop, with UnitedHealth Group Inc down 0.8%, Aetna 0.8%, and Humana down 0.7%. The proposed replacement plan would put an end to the Medicaid expansion insurance program for low-income individuals, and would replace income-based subsidies with fixed tax credits for purchasing private insurance. In particular, Medicaid-focused insurers were hit the hardest as Centene fell 2.2%, Molina Healthcare dropped 2.5%, and WellCare Health Plans was down 2%, according to the NY Times.

A federal analysis of the AHCA found that it could leave millions of Americans uninsured, the Wall Street Journal reported. However, the upside of the GOP health bill is that it would lower premiums for younger individuals. Democrats quickly backed the report to further their argument that Republicans wanted to “tear away health coverage” from Americans. According to the WSJ, the report provides the clearest picture to-date of the trade-offs in the GOP replacement plan.

The proposed AHCA would place limits on Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office confirmed the magnitude of those limits, according to NPR. Each year, 1.6 million Americans receive health care from the organization through federal programs, such as Medicaid, totaling upwards of $400 million in annual federal reimbursements, NPR reported. Under the GOP health plan, Planned Parenthood would lose $178 million in payments. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, told NPR that “Planned Parenthood operates just like every other health care provider in this country that provides abortion services. We get reimbursed for preventive care. I guess if you want to reduce intended pregnancy and the need for abortion, the last thing you should do is try to deny women the access to family planning.” Tom Glessner, president of the National Institute of Family and Life advocates, which lobbies against abortion, is optimistic about the projected savings the plan could bring. “On the positive side, taxpayers benefit from this provision,” Glessner told NPR. “Taxpayers would spend $156 million less, over a decade, by defunding Planned Parenthood, even if women used more Medicaid dollars during their pregnancies.”

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