This is the actual bill: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-115hr1628rh/pdf/BILLS-115hr1628rh.pdf in case you need some reading material.
Many of us were sickened by the fact that a group of mostly-rich-white men passed a death panel bill on May 4 (217-213 votes) and even celebrated it with a beer party! It isn’t health care, it is insurance coverage that benefits the insurance companies alone. It is a massive cut in Medicaid ($839 BILLION) and insurance companies will have more power than ever if this passes. The Republicans have been wanted to repeal the ACA for many years and continue spouting the meme that ACA is failing. It is not! It has been expanding. It also could be a power grab for the assets of seniors as some would lose their homes and assets trying to pay for their health coverage. And it also adversely affects many Veterans. It really is mean-spirited and doesn’t help anyone but the very wealthy!
However, we can take heart that the next steps will likely put a kibosh on the bill and hopefully it won’t pass the Senate! Before I detail the dire consequences of this crappy piece of legislation, please note that we all need to contact our Senators and express our outrage so that it can be killed! This bill hurts most Americans and should encourage bipartisan action now. As you read on about the meat of this legislation, please note that it is not a signed deal yet, and we can urge them to burn it at the stake before that happens!
First, this bill was created quite quickly without much transparency, without hearings, without a Congressional Budget Score and many of those who voted for it hadn’t even read it! Their primary tactic for years has been to repeal The Affordable Health Care Act or prevent/destroy anything Obama tried to do. The first attempt at a bill failed and only 17% approved of it nationally. The CBO estimated 24 million would lose coverage; I believe the new plan is worse and even more will lose coverage or not be able to afford it. This bill is elitist, racist and heartless! And now Congress goes on recess again (deserve a break after working so hard on nothing). Please give them hell if you attend any town halls where they have the courage to show up!
Secondly, the purpose of this bill is clearly to benefit the rich, not to give America better, or affordable healthcare! In the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, the rich were taxed 3% on their capital gains which in turn paid for the expansion of Medicaid health benefits to millions. With this new bill, that tax goes away so it benefits those who were paying that fee and takes away the revenue to cover the health care benefits for millions. Do the rich really need that little extra money? And the CEO’s of the health insurance companies earn millions per year thanks to our payments! Do they need to make more money on the back of those who need the help the most? Do we really need to rob Peter to screw Paul someone asked? Where is our willingness to help one another? Furthermore, they wanted to cut the money from healthcare to increase future tax cuts (their next task) and other things they want to fund like military and the wall! For those making over $200 K per year, it is a $300 billion tax cut! “According to the Census Bureau, 3,708,000 individuals earned more than $200,000 a year in 2014. That is 1.5% of the population over the age of fifteen.” So this bill screws almost 99% of the U.S.!
You likely realize that America is the ONLY industrialized country who tries to mix profit-making insurance with health coverage and we see how well that works! It doesn’t! And it is the costliest health care in the world! Even ‘45’ told the Australian leader that their healthcare was better than ours. Of course, it is; they have single payer and we all need to push for that! It would save our country billions! We should not have to worry whether we can afford coverage, or whether a doctor will see us because of our provider, or in some states whether there even is a provider to see. Bernie Sanders says, “Our current system is the most expensive, bureaucratic, wasteful, and ineffective in the world.”
Clearly the ACA could use some improvement but Congressional legislators who attempted that discussion on the floor were not recognized. To be sure most people who don’t like the ACA is due to the cost of their premiums. Even though I am covered by a former employer’s health insurance (not the ACA), my monthly costs have risen yearly and I am unhappy with what I pay too. Also, regarding prescriptions, Americans pay higher costs than other countries for the identical drug and that should not happen! Who does that benefit? The pharmaceutical companies. They can charge anything they want to! They spent more than $3 billion lobbying since 1998; could that be part of our rising costs?
If this bill passes, premiums will be even higher (estimates are at least 25% higher), and those fly-by-night insurance companies will crop up again to make some money but won’t cover you for anything but a hang nail. It also does not mandate that large companies offer insurance anymore, so any employer could stop offering it as a benefit! It allows people over 50 years old to be charged rates five times higher than younger people. For myself that would be almost my entire income! In a true insurance pool, the younger help subsidize the older and when they age the get the benefits too as the younger will then pay for them. The bill also allows insurers to set yearly and lifetime caps on coverage. Conceivably, if you are born with a problem requiring surgery, you could lose coverage for the rest of your life!
In this legislation, states have the right to create waivers for insurance companies to charge more and to opt out of rules for what is covered. So that could mean they might not have to cover hospitalization, ambulances, emergencies and pregnancy (anything they choose). Previously, hospital, especially rural and less-occupied ones, had their pay reduced but patients made up the difference as more people had insurance. Now that changes as their pay is reduced and many people won’t be able to use their facilities either. And for low income people or the disabled, Medicaid subsidized their insurance. The ACHA cuts that by $900 billion. Those just above the poverty line also won’t get their former subsidies so they will have to pay more or lose insurance.
Furthermore, as states receive less money from the Feds for expanding Medicaid many will not be covered because states can’t afford to pick up the difference in funding costs. That will affect low-income people and those with disabilities the most. In my state of Colorado, we are further screwed because of a silly law called Tabor (the only state in America that has this) which requires the voters to vote on any tax increases. Currently we are already millions behind because legislators cannot raise taxes to cover rising costs of transportation and education (State higher education must charge students more). Plus our population is growing by leaps and bounds. Voters have been unlikely to vote for tax increases and now you would ask them to pay for Medicaid expansion too?
What are those pesky pre-existing conditions? In the ACA they were mandated to cover these; the new ACHA takes out that mandate! A pre-existing condition could be a birth defect, PTSD, mental health (but you can buy a gun!), sexual assault, a disease, an injury or any condition that affected you before you got your insurance policy. A few examples are cancer, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, Lupus, sleep apnea, lung or brain disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, asthma, depression and bi-polar, and autism to name a few. It goes further in conditions affecting women (like being born a woman; pregnancy and rape victims which are caused by men). The GOP also doesn’t see a need for Planned Parenthood as they think you can just visit the supermarket for birth control. Those with pre-existing conditions, some at birth and most people over 45 years of age, may not be able to afford coverage as they could be forced into ‘high risk’ pools where they can be charged more. This could mean less coverage or unaffordable coverage for many.
Maybe you agree with me that all people need health care and that it should be a right? Most Republicans believe it is a privilege and don’t believe in paying for anyone else. That has never made sense to me. It’s not a commodity and I think we are here to help one another. We all get sick. Some are born with health issues or disabilities and others develop diseases over time. Of course, there are many things we can do to take better care of ourselves, but many diseases are inherited or the result of our worsening environmental conditions. To me, we are in this together to help one another and to care for each other when we fall ill. No one should have to suffer, go bankrupt, or die especially when the cost could be shared equitably; not just benefit the 1%. We need single payer!
So, if you still love the new AHCA plan after reading this, you need not read any further. But if you think it is one of the worse things Congress has ever done like myself, continue reading for suggestions for coping and fighting back.
1.Sad to say, but some of us may conceivably pass away before this goes into effect in a couple of years (if it passes) and not have to deal with it. But many of us have children and grandchildren who will have to, so speak up now for future generations!
2.States can take individual action. California is running SB562 to create a single payer system. Colorado is working on a similar measure.
3.Contact your Senators immediately and constantly. Demand or attend town halls while they are on recess (again!) to express your views and to tell your stories.
- Move to another country…I hear New Zealand is accepting Americans and has jobs!
- Try to stay as healthy as you can. Exercise, change your diet.
- Get creative. Maybe some doctors (have heard of some doing this) will take pay as you go without insurance. But this is usually limited coverage and not emergency.
- Drive safe. No accidents allowed. No falls, no cuts, no breaks.
- Drugs and alcohol. Just kidding; could lead to #1 or #7 above.
- Run for office at every level. Help shape the future of the country.
- Don’t vote for Republicans. Not saying they are all bad, but sad to say they rarely pass anything that helps anyone but themselves or the top 1%. Most of the time you are voting against your own best interests!