Did someone say complicated?
The Byzantine new Senate bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is difficult enough for average Americans to understand, let alone our senators, with not much time to consider it. The Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act, crafted behind closed doors by 13 Republicans with no input invited from medical professionals, the insurance industry, women, or the general public, might more accurately be called the American Wealthcare Bill, as some have suggested.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Score for the bill reveals that the bill would eliminate coverage for 15 million Americans next year and for 22 million by 2026. The CBO projects insurance markets would be destabilized and Medicaid funding would be reduced by $834 billion over the next decade; making individual coverage unaffordable for those who need it the most.
Figures from the Kaiser Foundation, Medicaid, and CHIP & Access Commission show that over time, these cutbacks will have their greatest impact on our kids and senior citizens. Currently Medicaid takes care of 76 percent of poor kids, 60 percent of kids with disabilities, and 64 percent of seniors in nursing homes. With the severe cuts to Medicaid over time the bill calls for, these folks would be out of options.
Four billion dollars of funding for preventative care would be eliminated, including immunizations and prevention of heart disease, stroke, suicide, lead poisoning, and Alzheimer’s outreach. Insurance companies would no longer be required to cover prescription drugs, pregnancy and childbirth, emergency room visits and more. Critical preventative services like mammograms, colon cancer screenings, vaccinations, and check-ups would (likely) not be covered. (Source: Jen Hayden, Daily Kos)
Average premiums would be increased by 20 percent next year. Planned Parenthood would be eliminated. The CBO says enrollees would face additional costs in the “thousands of dollars in a given year” for services such as maternity or mental health. In states that waive federal essential health benefit requirements, the CBO explains, “insurance policies would provide fewer benefits” and consumers would pay more out of pocket.
Meanwhile, taxes would be cut for rich families and health care, starting after the 2018 mid-term elections. These tax cuts wouldn’t help the economy, because they would mostly go to people who don’t need them. They are neither ethical nor financially sound, encouraging “spending” (to the rich) of “income” (from the poor, in the form of Medicaid “savings”) that may or may not be available in the future. (Supporters of the bill) need the Medicaid cost savings to get the tax cuts they want—not just in this bill but also in the broader tax-reform measure they hope to pass . . . (This amounts to) an enormous redistribution of wealth into the pockets of the already-wealthy. Those in favor of the bill will be given smoke and mirrors, allowing them to use the CBO’s figure as if it were a down payment on the broader tax cuts. . . , booking and spending the gains now, even though those gains may not materialize. (Source: John Cassidy, The New Yorker).
The bill would take a trillion dollars away from health coverage for the bottom 50 percent of the population to give a tax cut to the top 2 percent. (The New Yorker)
Really?? Is this the change we wanted? Wouldn’t it be easier (and kinder) to just fix the parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that need fixing and leave Medicaid alone?
Lois B. Robbins
Did someone say complicated?