Trumpcare Shows Us What The GOP Really Stands For
Yesterday, the Republican-controlled House passed a terrible piece of legislation that removes two of the most universally popular protections in Obamacare: guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions and guaranteed coverage for ten essential health benefits in every plan.
Here is exactly how each of these changes are absolutely awful.
First, pre-existing conditions.
Under Obamacare, insurance companies had to stop denying coverage or charging people more for a slew of reasons (aka pre-existing conditions) including: heart disease, cancer, asthma, diabetes, birth defects, and even pregnancy. In other words, Obamacare forced insurance companies to stop punishing people for their health. Trumpcare allows states to opt out of this requirement and instead create high-risk pools to fund coverage for people with pre-existing conditions separate from the rest of the population.
Besides creating a second-class system in this country for the sick, the problem with high-risk pools is that they do not work. Before Obamacare, 35 states tried this system. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the results were higher premiums, a waiting period for coverage of six months to a year, lifetime annual limits, and high deductibles. Further, high-risk pools are expensive. Trumpcare provides $130 billion over ten years and an additional $8 billion over five years for states to fund these pools. Yet the Center for American Progress found functional high-risk pools would need $327 billion over ten years to work. Taxpayers will be on the hook to make up that difference.
Second, essential health benefits.
If you’re thinking “Oh, I have insurance through my job so this travesty doesn’t apply to me,” then this is where you’re wrong. Trumpcare also allows states to opt out of the Obamacare guarantee that ten essential health benefits- including coverage for prescription drugs, hospitalization, pregnancy, and childbirth- are in every health plan. With essential benefits on the chopping block, states will face enormous pressure from insurance companies to lower standards in order to cut costs. If even one state eliminates certain essential benefits then large employers can use that state’s standard in their own plan and start applying lifetime limits on that service. For example, if *one* state removes maternity care from its standard for essential benefits, large employers in *any* state can apply caps to maternity care in their health plans. It is not hard to see that a race to the bottom will come next. Large employers will shrink their insurance plans to match the most bare-bones set of standards possible.
Finally, who will get hurt? Just about everyone.
According to the Center for American Progress, the non-elderly population with a pre-existing condition in each state hovers around 50 percent. On the low end is 46 percent of the population in Utah and on the high end is 53 percent of the population in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. Naturally, the elderly population is even more likely to have a pre-existing condition. Additionally, the AARP says Trumpcare will impose an “age tax” on older Americans by allowing insurance companies to charge them approximately $13,000 more in annual premiums. Lastly, the vast majority of people with insurance through their employer, approximately 110 million people, could see their current plans gutted.
So what happens next?
Now that the bill has passed the House, we have to keep fighting — in fact, we have to do even more. We need to do everything we can to stop this in the Senate. That means making sure every American understands exactly how badly this bill will hurt them and hold Republicans accountable. Here are some ways to put your passion to work:
- Attend a town hall near you to speak out — check out this list from the Town Hall Project.
- Get tips on how to advocate to your elected representatives at RecessToolkit.com
- Is your Senator or Congressman failing to hold a town hall or dodging your phone calls? You can attend or organize a citizens town hall without them.
- Share this Medium post on Facebook or on Twitter.
Angry? You should be. It’s time to get to work.