American Health Care Reform Act of 2015 (HR 2653, 114th Congress)
What it does
Repeals the Affordable Care Act; promotes patient-centered healthcare; creates a safe harbor for defendants in medical malpractice; establishes a medical breakthrough fund for scientific research; and restricts funds for embryo-destructive stem cell research, human cloning, and abortion.
The American Health Care Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 2653) presents a health care system to replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148) (ACA; colloquially known as “Obamacare”) and related measures. Provisions include making healthcare more affordable, creating greater transparency in pricing of health services, enhancing Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and offering wellness incentives. The act aims to make the health care market more competitive and increases support for patients in medical malpractice suits. The Act further creates a Medical Breakthrough Fund to promote advancements in common disease treatments, and prohibits Federal funding for embryo-destructive stem cell research, human cloning, and abortion coverage.
The Act is divided into seven Titles:
- Title I – Repeal of Obamacare
- Title II – Increasing Access to Portable, Affordable Health Insurance
- Title III – Improving Access to Insurance for Vulnerable Americans
- Title IV – Encouraging a More Competitive Health Care Market
- Title V – Reforming Medical Liability Law
- Title VI – Medical Breakthrough Fund
- Title VII – Other Provisions (Prohibits using funds for embryo-destructive stem cell research, human cloning, and abortion coverage)
This brief will focus on Title VI and Title VII because the former Title aims to encourage novel neuroscience and genetics research while the latter places limits on genetic research performed on human embryos.
This Title amends Section 402A of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 201 et seq.) by establishing a Medical Breakthrough Fund to support biomedical basic, translational, and clinical research. Funds will be allocated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in accordance with various guidelines, for research about Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. This Title further establishes the $1 billion Cure and Vaccine (CV) Prize for the investigator who first publishes a cure or a vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease. The NIH will determine criteria for what constitutes a cure or vaccine and will form a CV Prize Advisory Board for receiving and evaluating applications.
This Title prohibits funds appropriated by this bill from being used in embryo-destructive stem cell research and human cloning. Funds may be used, however, for research involving nuclear transfer or other cloning techniques to produce molecules, DNA, cells other than human embryos, tissues, or animals other than humans.
Title VI of H.R. 2653 would explicitly support three kinds of research through the Medical Breakthrough Fund. Basic research, also known as early stage investigation, is performed without thought of practical ends, but with the goal of expanding general knowledge and understanding of nature and its laws. Translational research fosters the multidirectional and multidisciplinary integration of basic research, patient-oriented research, and population-based research. Finally, clinical research describes any study that involves people, either through direct interaction or through the collection and analysis of blood, tissues, and other samples.
Title VI creates the Medical Breakthrough Fund to promote research developments in specific diseases, namely Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
- The CV Prize focuses particularly on Alzheimer’s disease, which is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and eventually the ability to carry out simple tasks. Alzheimer’s affects more than five million Americans, primarily aged 60 or older, and is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. The disease leads to mild symptoms like wandering, getting lost, and personality and behavioral changes; moderate symptoms like problems recognizing family and friends, difficulty carrying out daily tasks, and hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia; and severe symptoms like the loss the ability to communicate, seizures, difficulty swallowing, and ultimately becoming completely dependent on others.
- Cancer encompasses a broad range of ailments wherein body tissue cells rapidly and incessantly divide. Many cancers result in solid tumors, or masses of tissues, that can be malignant or benign.
- Heart disease encompasses a range of conditions that affect one’s heart. These conditions include blood vessel diseases such as coronary artery disease; diseases leading to narrowed or blocked blood vessels; or diseases that affect the heart’s muscle, valves, or rhythm.
- Stroke can occur when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue or oxygen and nutrients. This can lead to permanent brain damage and death.
- Diabetes encompasses a group of diseases that affect how the body uses blood sugar (glucose). Left untreated, diabetes can cause various long-term health complications.
Title VII prohibits funding for embryo-destructive stem cell research and human cloning. Stem cells are body cells that have the potential to turn into other types of specialized tissue cells as an individual grows; stem cells also help repair damaged tissues. Embryo-destructive stem cell research, also referred to as embryonic stem cell research, makes use of embryonic stem cells, which are stem cells derived from lab-fertilized embryos. Unlike adult stem cells, which tend to progress into only certain tissue types, an embryonic stem cell can become any sort of tissue, meaning they could have wide clinical use in addressing certain maladies. Current research aims to reveal ways that embryonic stem cells could treat diseases like diabetes, heart disease, or muscular dystrophy.
Human cloning is the complete nuclear transfer of one human’s DNA from a diploid cell (one containing two sets of chromosomes) into an enucleated oocyte (an immature, unfertilized egg cell with its nuclear material removed) so as to create an embryo. This procedure is used for other animals for reproductive cloning, which attempts to create a new copy of an existing animal by allowing that embryo to grow in a female’s womb. The procedure is likewise used for humans for therapeutic cloning, which yields embryonic stem cells in a lab setting. The result of the procedure is a viable embryo, which in the case of therapeutic cloning can then be used to produce embryonic stem cells for the ultimate purpose of using those stem cells to treat a disease.
Endorsements & Opposition
- Cosponsor Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ-4), on his website – “I am a coauthor and original cosponsor of H.R. 2653, the American Health Care Reform Act (AHCRA). This bill is a pragmatic, practical, and portable free-market alternative to the current health care system. This bill fully repeals the ACA and spurs competition to lower health care costs by allowing Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines and allows small businesses to pool together to negotiate for better rates.”
- Sponsor Representative Phil Roe (R-TN-1), in a blog post – “This bill is a good starting point to truly addressing the problems in the American health care system in a commonsense, patient-centered way that returns decision-making power to patients and their doctors.… The bill will reform medical liability laws in a way that respects states’ rights and protects the sanctity of human life by prohibiting any health plan from requiring coverage of abortion services. Most importantly, this bill makes meaningful reforms to the health care system without requiring Americans to purchase insurance.”
Opposition: At present, there has not been any publicly reported opposition to this bill.