By Brian Sherrill, Opinions Editor
The American Health Care Act (AHCA), proposed by Republicans, would take 23 million citizens (mostly children, elderly, and disabled people) off of insurance and make general health care more expensive for everyone, while providing tax cuts to the wealthiest class in America. This bill failed once in the house, was then slightly modified just enough to pass, and is now secretly being rushed through the Senate by Republicans behind closed doors.
Why does the GOP want to repeal Obamacare?
First and foremost, it’s a political tactic in order to win seats. The Republican Party campaigned on the promise to repeal and replace a program that helps American citizens more than it hurts them. Now, they’ve backed themselves into a corner and must appeal to the wealthiest class in order to get out of it. Deeper explanation of this will further be developed in an answer below to a broader question.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA, or more commonly known as Obamacare) is also not perfect. It is, however, better than what we had before, which seems to be what the GOP seeks going back to.
The Centers for Disease Control released its 2016 results from the National Health Survey midway through last May. It reported that from 2010 to 2016, the amount of people uninsured dropped from 48.6 billion to 28.6 bn. This is incredible progress, but with it comes its flaws.
The progress is stagnating and the value of insurance is declining due to “high-deductible health plans” that are rapidly becoming a rule rather than an exception. For the privately insured under age 65, 39% had a high-deductible in 2016, up from 25% in 2010.
Obamacare is better than no Obamacare, but millions still remain vulnerable to catastrophic, life-destroying medical bills, and out-of-pocket health costs continue to squeeze the insured.
Who is drafting the GOP Health Care bill?
The answer, astonishingly, is that no one knows. We do know that this bill is being revised and drafted by a committee of thirteen men—yes, thirteen men, zero women, are deciding the fate of every woman’s maternity care in the immediate future—behind closed doors.
Just a week ago, no one had seen the draft and no public hearings happened and none were scheduled. In addition, according to a Snopes fact-check, Republicans even “considered banning cameras from the halls of the Senate so they couldn’t be asked about the bill on television.”
Also, don’t forget that health care makes up for approximately one seventh of our economy. It’s daunting to think this portion of our economy is potentially in the hands of thirteen men hidden behind curtains while President Trump drums up distractions with his reality TV-styled tweets towards news networks like CNN and Morning Joe. “The Wizard of Oz,” anyone? Pay no attention to that man behind the curtains.
This process is frighteningly opaque, especially in comparison to the transparency Obamacare took on during its proceedings: three debates in House committees and two Senate committees, and was subject to hours of bipartisan debate that allowed for the introduction of amendments.
Mark Peterson, chair of the UCLA Department of Public Policy, said that he “can’t recall any major piece of legislation that was completely devoid of public forums of any kind, and that were crafted outside of the normal committee and subcommittee structure to this extent.”
What consists of the AHCA?
First, it’s important to discuss Medicaid and what it does, because that is specifically what AHCA attacks:
Medicaid is the largest public insurance program in the nation and people across the country rely on it for “life-saving assistance.” It benefits approximately 74 million low-income adults, children, seniors, and disabled citizens. Half of all babies born in the US are born on Medicaid. 30 percent of the people suffering from opioid addiction depend on Medicaid for rehabilitation. 60 percent of seniors in nursing homes rely on Medicaid. Medicaid covers things that private insurance do not, such as follow-up surgeries, procedures, and tests.
In a world where one shot could cost $1,000 (some take this shot every day for a month), Medicaid is essential in order to help people who can barely afford the costs of travel.
This program, though, with all its positively moral qualities, is exactly what the AHCA defunds. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that the bill passed by the House would cut Medicaid by $834 bn over a 10 year span. The CBO score reflects the modifications made to the AHCA, changes that allow states to obtain waivers that would relieve health insurers of the requirement that they cover the full spectrum of “essential healthcare benefits.”
Under this bill, covered benefits would become skimpier, while sicker and older citizens would be pushed out of the market. Out-of-pocket costs would rise for many, for instance, the people that would need services no longer covered by their insurer – mental health or maternity care.
What does Donald think?
Breaking news, he doesn’t. Miraculously though, his frontal lobe still conjures up speech patterns. During the President’s campaign run, he promised his supporters that he would protect Medicaid from spending cuts. Appropriately, he made this promise because Medicaid provides a safety net to the majority of Trump’s supporters: white working-class families with low income.
Trump’s budget released last Tuesday, June 27, proposed Medicaid cuts in addition to those of the AHCA, which amounted to a gargantuan $1.3 trillion over a decade, according to the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities.
The tax plan and budget would in-turn transform the health care and food aid programs for the poor into bricks for a US-Mexico border wall, guns for an already bloated military, and – more than anything – a payout to Trump’s billionaire and millionaire cronies.
How can following through with this make sense?
It doesn’t, unless you’re the Republican Party, pinned in a corner and needing to find a way out, and fast. Naturally, because it’s politics, politicians fight to “win,” with no other goal in mind. When “winning” is all that matters, your judgment is clouded and principal ethics inherent in serving “the people” scooted to the side like a kitten on ceramic flooring.
For nearly a decade, the GOP have fought toward misconstruing America’s perception of the ACA through rigorous hate speeches, fear mongering in political ads, and press statements: the death panels.
The moment Republicans lost the election of 2012, they made repealing and replacing Obamacare their primary campaign promise. Repealing Obamacare was bound to be their first priority in order to look good in front of their Fox News followers.
Now that it’s real, Republicans have to face the fact that Obamacare protects Republican’s most fervent fans. Now, reversing ACA means taking away healthcare from those that need it most, working class families, and giving tax cuts to the rich.
Republicans, with political nearsightedness, boxed themselves into a corner that will require cruelty and earnest dishonesty to get out of alive. If their bill passes though, I wonder if it will even affect their image in the eyes of those that support them, like die-hard sports fans blindly supporting their hometown team.
In the end, if they win, their fans will lose a lot of money, and the rich will become richer. This enables them to buy more Republicans with massive amounts of legal bribes taking the form of campaign donations and threatening those that don’t comply with million dollar campaign attacks. Which reminds me, I wonder when Missouri Governor Greitens will uphold his promise to ban lobbyist gifts? Maybe he won’t, ever, because that’s exactly how he paid for his commercials and rallies.
Students, if you care about the future of affordable health care in this country then here is what you can do. You can contact the senators whose job it is to serve everyone, not just the wealthiest class in America:
Roy Blunt – https://www.blunt.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-roy
Claire McCaskill – https://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/contact