WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — While millions of Americans have lost their health insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic and differing healthcare policies have dominated the campaign trail, an effort to compromise on coverage is gaining momentum in Congress.
At the beginning of the month, Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-AR, introduced the Fair Care Act of 2020, which he said combines both parties’ priorities for patients and taxpayers.
“To cover more people, to lower costs and to cover preexisting conditions,” Westerman said.
Much of the bill builds on provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including a direct copy of its protections for preexisting conditions.
“It actually covers them more so than the Affordable Care Act because we also have the high-risk reinsurance pools that were in the original Fair Care Act (of 2019),” Westerman said. “So there’s absolutely no argument that we’re doing away with preexisting conditions.”
His legislation would also expand on another idea from the ACA, insurance exchanges, to create more competition among providers and flexibility for patients. Westerman called it “revolutionary” for employers, who could still offer employee group plans or put pre-tax dollars into employees’ accounts, which allows them to go on the exchange and own their plan.
“Hopefully Democrats learned their lesson on partisan healthcare with the Affordable Care Act, and hopefully Republicans have learned our lesson on partisan healthcare with the American Healthcare Act,” Westerman said.
The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress failed to repeal and replace the ACA in 2017, but a case before the U.S. Supreme Court a week after the election next month could overturn the law.
“Within a matter of weeks, we could have a bill that would drop in and be a new healthcare replacement with the Fair Care Act,” Westerman said.
“If they don’t strike it down, it could still be put into law,” he continued. “Take away some of those things that aren’t working very well in the Affordable Care Act, keep the things that are working and then put a lot of other good policy in there.”
But a lot hinges on who’s in control of the White House and Congress after Election Day.
The Congressional Budget Office has not yet scored the legislation, but Westerman said it’s estimated to save about $200 billion over 10 years.