Reasons to Resist the American Health Care Act

I get lots of emails from all kinds of people about causes that need money. They are all important and I wish I could give to all of them. Right now I really can’t give to any of them. But I sign any petitions that I agree with and I write to my Congressional representatives when asked and sometimes when I just feel the need to tell them what one of their constituents is thinking. I fill out lots of surveys, although not all of them, because most are just too transparently focused on getting you to donate. But with the release of the American Health Care Act this first full week of March in 2017, several of these fund-raising emails also included some very useful points showing why the AHCA will not meet the needs of “we the people” and is not a replacement for the ACA in any way.

We know that the bill offers tax credits to be used, supposedly, for buying health care, although I have also seen feedback that it will not be helpful unless you itemize your deductions on your taxes. No one with under 50,000 dollars in income is very likely to itemize deductions. There is a great graphic in today’s New York Times that depicts tax credits by income and there is a second set of maps that indicates lost funding by age.  (I do not mean to favor the NYT. It is the only paper I subscribe to. Sadly it is too pricey to subscribe to all of the papers I would like to read.)

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/03/08/upshot/who-wins-and-who-loses-under-republicans-health-care-plan.html/

We know that if this bill passes the mandate to buy health insurance disappears and so does the Medicaid expansion. Although the bill ostensibly still protects people with preexisting conditions and children up to the age of 26, it is unclear whether that will stay in the plan, either because it seems financially impossible, or because it may be such a point of contention with insurance providers that it will have to be deleted.

You can find summaries of the shortcomings of this bill all over the internet and on both sides of the issue but these short lists that came in my emails make the information that matters to folks who lean left very clear and concise.

Paul Tonko, a US representative since 2009 from New York’s 20th district (Paul Tonko.com) gives us this succinct list about the AHCA:

Key points about “Trumpcare”:

  1. The GOP’s plan will lower taxes for the richest among us while reducing coverage for senior citizens and the poor;
    Their plan lines the pockets of billionaires and CEO’s by giving money back to insurance companies – not the American people;
    3. Mental health care and other issues would no longer be required to be included in your health insurance plan;
    4. Planned Parenthood would be completely defunded and women would have less access to reproductive care;
    5. The GOP bill does nothing to fight the opioid epidemic and eliminates support for counseling and rehabilitation.

From the Daily Kos

  • Kill the Medicaid expansion, one of Obamacare’s most popular and successful ways to expand healthcare coverage
  • Defund Planned Parenthood, a critical provider of women’s health care coverage
  • And end healthcare subsidies in favor of tax breaks that will make it harder for older Americans to afford coverage

From Michael Phelan of Social Security Works

Republicans have wasted little time declaring war on seniors.

The new GOP plan to gut the Affordable Care Act will give massive tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of the poor, elderly and sick. It does this by raiding $346 billion from the Medicare trust fund to pay for giveaways to the wealthy, and in turn intentionally weakens Medicare’s finances.

Immediately after Election Day, Paul Ryan “justified” his plan to gut Medicare by saying, “because of Obamacare, Medicare is going broke.” Of course this couldn’t be further from the truth. ACA has in fact extended the lifespan of the Medicare Trust Fund. But the GOP’s plan is a self-fulfilling prophecy: Weaken Medicare in order to destroy the program through privatization.

From Kirstin Gillibrand, one of my state senators

Here are the top points you need to know about the Trump plan:

  1. It allows health insurance companies to charge older Americans up to five times more.
  2. It repeals the employer mandate, causing many families covered by their employers to lose coverage.
  3. It will take insurance away from millions of individuals and cripple state budgets by phasing out the Medicaid expansion.
  4. It gives health insurance companies a tax break for CEO pay over $500,000.
  5. It defunds Planned Parenthood, leaving millions without access to breast exams, birth control and pap smears.

I’m sure there is plenty more to be learned about this plan, which gives health care breaks and tax breaks to those who are already well able to pay and pretends to offer breaks to people who have such low incomes that they will find themselves unable to access these breaks (because they offer payment after the fact rather than up front).

Democrats and Republicans are both unhappy with this plan but for different reasons. Democrats expected a plan that would widen the gap between the average American worker and the wealthy, and one that would make health care unavailable to most of the people who just got into a plan, although they hoped for better. The Republicans, as miserably greedy and judgmental as ever, think this plan is too generous, too costly, and too socialist. They want a plan that uses no Federal dollars to pay for anyone’s health care. I don’t see how “we the people” will win either way, but I think we ought to put up a wicked fight to keep the ACA intact. Regardless of how flawed it might be, it is not as exclusionary as what we are likely to get from our currently very one-sided government.

 

 

 

 

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