Opinion

On the chopping block

First to get the ax was the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare was deemed the worst possible health care ever devised. All we heard was “repeal and replace.” That clarion call resounded across the nation without followers ever truly examining what the Affordable Care Act provided them.

They only heard the hyperbolic falsehoods and fear mongering. It was an overwhelmingly successful political strategy which swept Republicans into governorships and Congressional seats, putting them in full control. Even with total control of the House and Senate, for seven years they did not even attempt replacement knowing they could ride this cow into the presidency. It was brilliant. Now they have the House, the Senate, the presidency and the Judiciary and what have they come up with?

On the campaign trail, Trump vowed on his first day he will work on repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a great, big, beautiful, fantastic plan. Americans will love it and will say stop already with all these benefits. He said:

“We’re going to have insurance for everybody.”

“There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.”

“[They] can expect to have great health care. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.”

We’ll “take care of everybody” and that Americans can’t let “people die on the street.”

Now we have it – the American Health Care Plan (AHCA). Does it live up to the campaign promise? The Affordable Care Act has been an integral part of American lives for seven years. People remained silent amidst the constant din of “repeal and replace,” and why not if you are promised something better.

It’s here and is the exact opposite of what was promised. You don’t get it if you can’t pay. It’s not great. It’s more expensive and covers less. And unlike the faux ACA death panels, AHCA will condemn people to death. This is what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) found. AHCA throws 14 million people off coverage in 2018 and 16 million in 2024. Premiums will increase 18% in 2018 and 20% in 2019. It cuts $800 billion from Medicaid, affecting seniors because it covers 60% of seniors in nursing homes and 40% of long-term care recipients.

AHCA gives upwards of $600 billion in tax cuts to the wealthy. No pre-existing condition allowance for new enrollees, or those who have a break in their insurance coverage. There is no mandate to be insured but when you are, there is a whopping 30% surcharge.

In town halls across the country both conservatives and liberals savaged Republican Congressmen over Trump’s and Ryan’s fix of the Affordable Care Act. “Keep ACA.” “Do your job.” “ACA saved my life.” “ACA saved my family’s lives.” “This is your last term.” A coalition of conservatives and liberals stopped AHCA but they will be back. This time they will eliminate “essential healthcare benefits” demanded by the Freedom Caucus.

Next on the chopping block is Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. If AHCA is their idea of fixing healthcare, brace yourself for their “fix,” or more accurately “ax,” on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Just like the AHCA, the outcome will be devastating. There will be huge cuts in Medicare in the form of vouchers. This means you’ll pay more, have worse coverage, or no coverage at all.

Block grants will cut Medicaid significantly resulting in tax increases. Social Security will be privatized putting you at risk of losing all your retirement benefits to Wall Street.

If these changes harm everyone then who benefits? Contrary to Trump’s claim of being the man of the people, these reforms clearly reward the very wealthy, and corporate and business entities servicing these agencies. It’s another huge transfer of wealth from the “have nots” to the “haves.” The swamp hasn’t been drained. It’s business as usual.

Let’s band together as we did with AHCA to protect our common interest. Conservatives and liberals will convene for a “Hands off our Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid” Town Hall, 2-4 p.m., April 30, at the Oakhurst Library.

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