Time to finally ensure that healthcare coverage is a right for every American.
Congressional Republicans finally released their long-awaited plan to replace the Affordable Care Act and it’s even more of a disaster than anticipated, being panned by experts across party lines. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s independent analysis, about 24 million Americans will lose their healthcare coverage by 2026 if this legislation is passed, nearly doubling the rate of uninsured people.
The proposal cuts the available ACA subsidies in half and restructures them based solely on age, eliminating any consideration of income when distributing tax credits. Additionally, under this plan, insurance companies would be able to charge older consumers five times more than younger consumers and enables them to reduce the types of medical expenses covered in their plans.
The proposed bill would also dismantle Medicaid as we know it, while phasing out the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion that provided so many previously uninsured people with quality healthcare coverage for the first time. We need to protect Medicaid, not leaving the poor and working families forced to choose between paying their mortgage, for their child’s education or for their healthcare.
Despite the administration’s constant promises that no one will lose their coverage, the most marginalized Americans will be the hardest hit by this devastating plan, including unemployed people, working class Americans, the elderly, disabled people, and women. It’s completely backwards and nonsensical to create a healthcare system where the more help you need from the government, the less you get. In Orange County, residents above the age of 60 will get 39% less in healthcare subsidies — about $2,500 less per year.
In many ways, this legislation is not just a healthcare bill, but functions as a massive redistribution of wealth to the richest Americans in the form of hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthy. Champions of this plan deceitfully position their proposal as a way to promote freedom in the marketplace, but creating a system where working class and elderly Americans are unable to access affordable healthcare coverage is not a real form of choice.
At the same time, this healthcare proposal is a direct attack on women’s reproductive rights. The plan includes a provision that would prevent Medicaid patients from using their insurance to get treated at Planned Parenthood. As the largest provider of reproductive health in the country, Planned Parenthood provides a wide variety of low-cost preventative care, cancer screenings, and other vital services. Many areas don’t have the medical infrastructure to replace these services, leaving low-income women to fend for themselves.
In addition to dismantling Planned Parenthood, an incredibly important organization that millions of Americans depend on every day, a provision in the House GOP plan prohibits subsidies from being spent on plans that cover abortion, which would make virtually every healthcare plan in California ineligible for the proposed tax credits.
While some representatives in Washington, like Dana Rohrabacher, have punted on taking a position on the legislation, Americans are luckily catching on to this ruse put forth by House Republicans. According to a recent poll from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, about half the country understands that the GOP plan will increase the number of uninsured and raise prices for consumers who have to buy coverage on their own. While Paul Ryan admitted on Wednesday that the current plan’s structure must change to pass the House, it is unclear how they will amend the legislation.
Despite some obvious problems with the ACA, like its impact on small businesses or rising premiums, it’s undeniable that President Obama’s landmark reform has done some groundbreaking and amazing things for people in need, both in terms of expanding critical health care coverage and lowering cost for most Americans. Just in the 48th Congressional District, 76,899 residents have received healthcare coverage through Covered California and the Medicaid expansion, according to Health Access.
Ultimately, our nation’s healthcare system reflects how we treat each other in times of need and millions of Americans lives are at stake. We need to join the rest of the advanced world and finally ensure that healthcare coverage is a right for every American.
In the meantime, members of Congress need to have a real conversation about ways to improve upon our existing healthcare system, not to completely dismantle it and throw millions of people off their current healthcare coverage. Healthcare cannot continue to be treated as a hyper-partisan political game, and we need to work together to find common sense reforms that increase the level of provided care and lower the costs for our most vulnerable people.