In another cost-cutting move, the bill would lower the maximum income level a household could have to still qualify for federal subsidies that help reduce the premiums people pay for enrollment for individual health plans. Obamacare currently bars subsidies to families that earn more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level. The new bill would reduce that cap to 350 percent of the poverty level.
Younger people, as a group, would end up paying less of a share of their income toward their individual health plans under the bill in comparison to what they pay now under Obamacare, while older people as a group would end up paying a larger share of their income.
Health plans that offer abortion services would not be eligible for the subsidies, according to the draft released Thursday.
The federal government also would end up spending less money subsidizing people’s insurance purchases by changing how the value of those subsidies are calculated. The bill would use a less-expensive type of individual health plan to calculate those subsidies, as opposed to the pricier plan used under Obamacare.
The bill also seeks to repeal, to the start of 2017, the 3.8 percent tax on net investment income.
The Trump administration is expected to back the bill, which most GOP senators were learning the details of during a meeting Thursday morning. The bill is named the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.”
“It’s going to be very good,” President Donald Trump said about an hour after the bill’s release. “A little negotiation, but it’s going to be very good.” Trump did not elaborate.
The House’s version of the bill, dubbed the American Health Care Act, is broadly unpopular among the public, and had been reportedly called “mean, mean, mean,” by Trump during a meeting with senators. Weeks earlier, Trump and House members who voted for the ACHA celebrated its passage in the Rose Garden of the White House.
A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll released Thursday found that just 16 percent of Americans thought the House bill was a good idea, with 48 percent saying it is a bad idea.
“In broad strokes, the Senate bill is just like the House: Big tax cuts, big cut in federal heath spending, big increase in the uninsured,” tweeted Larry Levitt, an Obamacare expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Under the Senate bill, low-income people would pay higher premiums for bigger deductibles,” Levitt said.
He had noted on Twitter on Wednesday that “A 60 year-old at 351% of poverty currently gets a premium subsidy of $5,151 per year on average.” The Senate bill would eliminate all of that federal financial aid if it becomes law.