At long last. Three and a-half years after the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, after focusing all this time on only repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, just in time for the upcoming manufactured debt limit crisis and following the summertime anti-Obamacare emphasis patrol, the Republican Study Committee has proposed a bill called The American Health Care Reform Act
The first step of the bill--repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in its entirety.
"...the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted."
Just yank the rug right out from under everybody. Second, increase access to portable, affordable health insurance through tax breaks.
Except as otherwise expressly provided, whenever in this title an amendment or repeal is expressed in terms of an amendment to, or repeal of, a section or other provision, the reference shall be considered to be made to a section or other provision of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
Individuals could claim a deduction of $7,500 against their income and payroll taxes, regardless of the cost of the insurance and families could deduct $20,000. Of course, that doesn't do you much good unless your income well over that.
Next up, it improves access to insurance for vulnerable Americans
by removing a couple of eligibility requirements, providing $5 million to states to establish a qualified risk pool, and verifying that only citizens and nationals of the United States are eligible.
Fourth, it says it encourages a more competitive health care market. It's confusing. The insurance policy issuer designates one state as the primary state for a particular policy and the health care laws of that state govern the policy. They can change the primary state designation when the policy is renewed. Other states where that policy is offered are considered secondary states, but the laws of the primary state governing that policy trump the laws of the secondary states. Essentially, any single state, district, or territory could pass laws governing health insurance that are favorable to insurance companies. Those companies could designate that state, district, or territory as a primary state. All other states where that policy is offered become secondary states whose laws become toothless with respect to those policies because they are now governed by the laws of the primary state. Imagine your state's Insurance Commissioner telling you, "Sorry, I can't help you. For your policy you'll have to contact the Insurance Commissioner in Alabama."
Fifth, it reforms medical liability law. You get three years to file a lawsuit. The amount of damages for actual economic losses
Economic damages are defined as "...objectively verifiable monetary losses incurred as a result of the provision of, use of, or payment for (or failure to provide, use, or pay for) health care services or medical products, such as past and future medical expenses, loss of past and future earnings, cost of obtaining domestic services, loss of employment, and loss of business or employment opportunities."
are limited to $250,000.
Noneconomic damages are defined as "...damages for physical and emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium (other than loss of domestic service), hedonic damages, injury to reputation, and all other nonpecuniary losses of any kind or nature."
A jury won't be informed of the $250,000 noneconomic loss limit. If a jury awards more for noneconomic losses then the award will be reduced to $250,000.
Punitive damages are allowed only "...if it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that such person acted with malicious intent to injure the claimant, or that such person deliberately failed to avoid unnecessary injury that such person knew the claimant was substantially certain to suffer."
If there are no compensatory damages then there shall be no punitive damages. But here's the kicker.
The amount of punitive damages, if awarded, in a health care lawsuit may be as much as $250,000 or as much as two times the amount of economic damages awarded, which ever is greater. The jury shall not be informed of this limitation.
Plus, there are no punitive damages for medical products and devices that comply with FDA standards.
Last of all, the bill says it respects human life by not requiring any health plan to provide coverage of or access to abortion services. Separate policies that do offer coverage may be offered, but back in the tax break section it states that the costs are tax deductible only if the pregnancy resulted from an act of rape or incest, the woman's life is endangered by the pregnancy, or it's for treatment of infection, injury, disease, etc., caused by or exacerbated by an abortion.
I'm just not feeling the love here.