The Republican Party has taken it’s first crucial step to killing thousands of Americans so that some rich people can get a tax cut.
Now that may seem hyperbolic on first glance, but rest assured that it is completely accurate. Yesterday the House GOP passed the American Healthcare Act by a margin of 217-213, and it now makes its way to the Senate. When I say this bill will kill thousands, I’m making a very conservative estimate in doing so. When read in full, this bill that House Republicans are currently celebrating the passage of is one of the most malicious, cruel, and rapacious pieces of legislation ever to set foot on the floor of Congress.
This bill allows states to opt themselves out of the Affordable Care Act guidelines on preexisting conditions. Remember when people were incredibly mad that insurance companies could deny people coverage that they paid for because of a condition they more than likely had no say in having? Well it’s coming back. Under the new rule, insurance companies can charge people higher premiums for these kinds of conditions. What are those conditions you may ask? The list includes but is not limited to: AIDS, Alzheimer’s, cancer, hypertension, autism, obesity, cerebral palsy, heart disease, and restless leg syndrome. You or someone you know/love probably falls under one of these categories (I certainly do), and every single one of them would have to be charged more for healthcare, that is if they don’t get denied coverage altogether like the pre-ACA years.
The bill allows for states to completely rewrite the rules on what constitutes “essential benefits” in regards to out of pocket spending caps on enrollees to healthcare plans. Rules on the books now have plans given to employees of a company health plan comply with what the state refers to as essential health benefits. The AHCA allows states to changes those benefits which can ruin people even with health insurance.
From stem to sternum this bill is a horrorshow: it cuts $800 million from Medicaid while rolling back the ACA Medicaid expansion, cuts funding for Planned Parenthood for a whole year (with the option to extend the timeline if they so desire), and can cause up to 24 million people to lose their health insurance while raising premiums by 15-20% based on the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the first iteration of the bill. We’d know more about the new bill, but Paul Ryan shoved the bill onto the floor without a CBO score.
All to fund a massive tax cut for the wealthiest among us.
As part of the repeal process of the ACA, the tax portion of the law would also be repealed, giving Americans earning over $200,000 a year a tax cut to the tune of $346 billion dollars over the next 10 years. Given how much of the rich avoid their taxes with offshore accounts and tax loopholes, this is basically ripping money out of the hands of the most vulnerable among us and giving it to someone who wants to buy another boat. People will die as a result of this bill, but hey, at least some rich people will get a little bit more money to add on to their already ridiculous pile of money.
This is the end result of seeing healthcare as a commodity to be bought and sold like a can of Pepsi or a Snuggie or a Big Mac. This is the end result of seeing the poor or the sick as bad people, that they deserve their situation because they don’t work hard enough or, as Alabama Representative Mo Brooks insinuated Tuesday, don’t lead good lives. This is the end result of the deluded and ahistorical mindset that, removed of regulation, corporations will naturally do what’s best for the consumer instead of what’s best for their bottom line. It all ends in ordinary people suffering and dying so that the wealthy can rest a bit more comfortably in their palaces knowing that they don’t have to worry about their precious gold going to the poor.
Medicare for All is the only solution that can fix this problem. Every single other industrialized nation does this, yet we lag behind like some kind of backwater. Every Democrat, who incidentally sang “Hey, Hey, Hey Goodbye” as the bill passed the House thinking their chances at a surge in 2018 are all but guaranteed (they aren’t), needs to run on a platform that includes Medicare for All, or they should be primaried and sidelined for someone who will run for that principle. The old way will not save us from this ravaging of our healthcare system. We need to come together as a people and fight for our right to a basic human service that we should all enjoy without having to risk our financial security to do so.