My life is on the line as are the lives of millions of others. My continued existence depends upon access to an expensive mix of medications and medical care for I live with a double-lung transplant. My yearly out-of pocket expenses are already over $20,000 a year. With the “improvements” proffered by Trump and the Republicans, that amount will at least quintuple – just for the insurance, and forget about deductibles and co-pays. Without a medical “lifeline” I will die. I suspect that most of us will have someone we know or love who will lose their lives.
I know I am not alone in this “dilemma.” People have accidents; weird health issues strike you down (as pulmonary hypertension did to me); babies are born with medical defects and anomalies; simple surgeries gone awry. Even with current insurance, people with chronic and/or catastrophic health issues struggle financially. I admit making tearful calls to the representatives from Oregon (where I live) to plead, beg actually, for them to vote against this bill. I admit to crying again when I heard the vote, and to being enraged as they partied on the White House lawn.
The outright duplicity of the Republicans regarding virtually everything they say about both the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is stunning.1 How can they just lie straight to our faces? Did a chill run down your back as the Republican Congress first passed their atrocity of a bill that will harm millions and likely kill tens of thousands of us, and then went to party at the White House celebrating their “victory”? I found myself in tears that they could truly be this calloused – pathologically calloused.
What has happened here affects us all – not just the poor, the “elderly” (if you count 64 as such), and those with pre-existing conditions. Just as the ACA radically slowed the cost inflation of health insurance while lowering overall costs, the AHCA will drive up the costs for almost everyone – whether insured through AHCA or not. Do you really think that when insurers are permitted to charge those over 64 up to FIVE TIMES what they charge younger people for exactly the same coverage, that they are not going to do the same thing with their non-AHCA insureds? This is even more likely as the Republican plan removes constraints on employers to provide coverage.
If you (or someone you know) thinks that the concerns over the Republican plan are overblown, then I encourage reading the bill – H.R. 1628 – American Health Care Act 0f 2017 – or at least the summary of it. It is chilling reading, and listening to Republicans talk about the “benefits” of their plan would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic. Following are just a few of the changes:
- removes individual mandate
- increases the ratio of cost to 5 to 1 (or charge $5 for ever $1 of coverage for a younger person with no preexisting condition)
- cuts out the Medicaid extension by lowering limit from 133% of poverty to the poverty line
- cuts public and preventative health initiatives and services
- allows state creations of high risk pools (already proven not to work) and allowing correspondingly high costs and deductibles for said pools
- sends Medicaid back to states as capped block grants – this means there will be no inflation increases making less money available with each passing year
The claims that the Republican plan is going to “save” money, or offer more “customer” options are exaggerated at best, and outright lies at worst. The so called “savings” are going as straight across tax benefits for (roughly) the top 1% (or families earning more than $250,000/yr. In other words, this is a HUGE transfer of wealth from the bottom 99% to the top 1%.
The claims of “choice” are laughable. It allows plans that offer little or nothing. For example, plans that cut out hospitalization, emergency room services, or catastrophic care. Isn’t that why people have insurance, for those times when costs exceed any hope of payment?
Perhaps people need to be reminded what drove the need for the Affordable Care Act. Insurance cost were jumping by double digits every year and the Number 1 cause of bankruptcy was medical costs. The cost of insurance was driving down the profits of major corporations and definitely more modest ones. We were a nation drowning in unchecked explosion of healthcare costs while more and more people were priced out of the market. In other words, the United States was in a healthcare crisis from both a cost and access perspective.
The Republicans want to take us back to this catastrophe in order to transfer massive wealth to the wealthiest people in the country.
To add insult to injury, the Republicans voted to exclude themselves from the changes they voted for. The added slap in the face being that many of them would also get to pocket the benefits of the rest of those earning over $200,000 a year.
I am sickened and beyond sad that we have actually elected people who are willing to lie, steal, and murder for personal gain. They are stealing far more than money from us, and the theft goes far beyond (no)Health policy.
We must fight back. We all have skin in this game. The Republicans think they can shove this through and the hell with us. I say no way is this going down and us not yell all the way to the voting booth and back.
Kaiser has a detailed summary of the impacts of the changes in this document.
1 I assume it is lost on no one that we have gone from “Affordable” to “American” (and definitely not affordable).