American Health Care Reform Act of 2017 (HR 277, 115th Congress)

The Policy

What it does

Repeals the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related reconciliation provisions, promotes patient-centered health care, and provides for the creation of a safe harbor for defendants in medical malpractice actions who demonstrate adherence to clinical practice guidelines.

Synopsis

SciPol Editors' Note: Despite the similar-sounding name, this brief does not cover the American Health Care Act (AHCA), introduced in late February 2017, which is the primary Republican plan to reform the Affordable Care Act.

HR 277 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. 

This bill is textually similar to the American Health Care Reform Act of 2015 (HR 2653, 114th Congress) (SciPol brief available.) Among the few differences, HR 2653 would have amended the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 201 et seq.) to establish a Medical Breakthrough Fund to support biomedical basic, translational, and clinical research. Funds would have 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. HR 2653 would have further established the $1 billion Cure and Vaccine (CV) Prize for the investigator who first published a cure or a vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease. HR 277 omits both the Medical Breakthrough Fund provisions and the CV Prize provisions.

HR 2653 would have prohibited funds appropriated by the bill from being used in embryo-destructive stem cell research and human cloning. Funds may have been 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. HR 277 maintains these provisions.

Context