GOP health care bill would allow employers to cap benefits

Patient, Denver Health Medical Center clinic on South Federal Blvd.
In this Thursday, March 9, 2017, photo, a patient heads into Denver Health Medical Center's primary care clinic located in a low-income neighborhood in southwest Denver. Under the new GOP health care proposal, which could roll back Medicaid expansion and take away subsidies to help pay for insurance, Denver Health could absorb a revenue loss, a problem that it will share with large public health systems across the country that serve low-income patients. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Republican health care plan that passed the House on Thursday targeted a key protection for Americans who get their health insurance through work.

It would allow health insurance companies to impose lifetime and annual caps on benefits for those who get coverage through a large-employer plan. Former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul banned insurers from imposing such caps, and public opinion surveys have shown that prohibition was popular.

Before the Obama reforms, people who got a serious medical problem could be cut off from their health coverage once they hit their insurance limit. They sometimes went into debt to continue their treatment.

Until the last few days, the provision had been a little-noticed part of the bill that would help congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump make good on their promise to undo Obama’s key domestic accomplishment. Most of the attention on the Republican plan was focused on how it could result in 24 million Americans losing insurance, primarily by rolling back expanded Medicaid benefits.

But the potential impact for workers covered by large-employer plans is setting off alarms. Coverage caps could create major problems, especially for younger people who have serious illnesses, said Matthew Lesser, a Democratic state representative in Connecticut.

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