UPDATE: Obamacare Repeal Fails, Medicare Safe For Now

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Medicare beneficiaries who were on edge about the GOP attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, can rest easy… for now. There will be no changes to the complimentary preventive services provided in Medicare Part B, nor will there be a closing of the “donut hole” in Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage…. for now. Out-of-pocket costs in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B will not soar… for now.

In Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s own words, “It’s time to move on.” Although Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote Tuesday to begin the debate about repealing Obamacare, little-to-nothing came of the discussion since. Without a replacement plan for the ACA that was acceptable enough for Senators, there could be no repeal. In the early hours of Friday morning, a 49-51 vote ended the debate over a “skinny repeal” attempt, with Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and John McCain of Arizona voting no. The skinny repeal was the last attempt of a replacement plan, preceded by the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). The first version of the BCRA repealed the .8% mark on investment income by those who make more than $200,000 per year, the Medicare Health Insurance Tax (a 0.9% payroll tax on high-income individuals), and a tax on compensation for health insurance executives. But the legislation met high resistance, which led to dropping these repeals in the second version of BCRA.

What’s next

Repealing the ACA has been a goal and campaign talking point of Republicans for seven years. Hence, it’s quite reasonable to expect that more attempts to repeal Obamacare will ensue, the earliest possibility being when the Senate returns from its August recess. President Donald Trump has tweeted his displeasure of the failure to repeal Obamacare.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan has already told Fox News that the House has a “Plan B” for tax reform.

Healthcare bills aside, however, Medicare beneficiaries may still be vulnerable to changes in their health insurance coverage as well as increases in their premiums and out-of-pocket costs for healthcare. Last week, the House Budget Committee proposed a budget that would slash Medicare spending by $487 billion over the next 10 years. The budget of course, is not set in stone just yet. If you have concerns about the budget or the plan to replace Obamacare, learn how to contact your local representative before he or she takes their summer recess.

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