With the election of Donald Trump as president, the Republican initiative to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare,” begins in earnest and with real traction, following several years of consistent but failed attempts that were merely symbolic. Now, the right-wing rhetoric is shaping into reality.
February, President Trump met with state governors and health-care
executives to begin to outline the initial framework of a
long-promised but still- developing plan that would “save America
from Obamacare.” It was a step towards the fulfillment of a major
campaign promise and a pledge that was repeated in the new
president’s first speech to Congress to “repeal and replace”
the Affordable Care Act.
Americans deserve and need better than what Obamacare has offered is
hardly in doubt. That President Trump and his business buddies will
provide better is definitely in doubt. In fact, it is becoming
increasingly clear that the Republican-replacement plan is intended
to provide less coverage to fewer people at higher cost—and with
higher corporate profits—despite claims to the contrary from GOP
of this writing, Republicans are sparring among themselves to
determine the overall framework of their plan. In practical terms,
this means a tug-of-war that will decide just how little health care
will be offered, who will pay for it, and at what extra price.
with any of the Republican health plans, millions of Americans will
spend more for less. One key feature of the replacement plan is that
obtaining health insurance will no longer be a requirement, as it was
under the ACA. Instead, insurance companies will be able to charge up
to 30% higher premiums for anyone who drops health coverage for even
two months and then re-enrolls. Workers who lose a job or who are
forced to take part-time hours instead of full-time are likely,
therefore, to face increasing hardship or may lose health care
provisions of the replacement plan are equally harsh. The ACA
income-based subsidies will be replaced by tax credits based on age,
instead of financial need. The old and poor, who are likely to have
the greatest need, will be less likely to afford insurance.
funding to states that increase Medicaid coverage will be phased out
under the House plan. States will be able to deny Medicaid coverage
to the unemployed.
these essential points, Republicans agree. Their only conflict is
over how to achieve them.
bill emerges from the Republican-dominated Congress, there are few
positive outcomes for workers, the poor, and elderly. Recent
estimates from the Brookings Institution stated that approximately 15
million people would be without health insurance as a result, and
congressional budget analysts estimated that 24 million people would
lose coverage by 2026.
the Republican health-care package has little to offer, as appears
likely, then clever politicians must try to divert public attention
from its actual contents and point instead to its tinsel and
fact, the first signs of the emerging Trump plan indicate the
likelihood of increased hardship for millions—all in the name of
liberty and freedom to choose. Florida Republican Dennis Ross
commented, “Not everybody is going to have health care—some
people just don’t care enough about their own care.”
a lack of income sufficient to afford medical insurance have anything
to do with this supposed lack of interest in one’s own well-being?
The Republican representative does not believe the question is even
worth asking. Apparently, there’s not much that can be done for
these “some people” because “whether they take it [health
insurance] or not is like trying to legislate responsibility” (Cape
Feb. 25, 2017).
course, Rep. Ross ignores the obvious fact that legislating
responsibility is a legitimate and necessary role of government,
whether it involves seat-belt laws, legal drinking age, etc.
Republican legislators, some more media-savvy than Rep. Ross, try to
put a more positive spin on the hardships that Congress is preparing
for the public. “We’re not going to send an IRS agent out to
chase you down and make you buy health insurance,” said Rep.
Michael Burgess of Texas. “If the numbers drop, I would say that’s
a good thing, because we’ve restored personal liberty in this
numbers that the representative refers to are the number of people
who will have health insurance. Those who lack the means to obtain
health care would have to find comfort in their “personal liberty”
to get sick, to suffer an injury, etc.
Republican politicians reach for concepts like “liberty,” and
“choice,” it is well to reply, “Liberty for whom? Choice to do
what?” Typically, the answer involves the well-being of
pharmaceutical companies and insurance corporations and their freedom
to earn obscene amounts of money. Your choice means their profits.
let’s not forget how well their executives are paid, in salaries
and benefits totaling more than $20 million per CEO. One good source
for such information is the
of the health-care plans and proposals emanating from the
Washington-Wall Street nexus, from ACA/Obamacare to the Republican
plan, suffer from the same fatal flaw. They are all intended, in the
first place, to create exorbitant corporate profits, and, in the
second place, to provide some measure of “good medicine.” These
two goals—money and health—are inevitably in conflict.
America places the greater value on the health of business rather
than on the health of people. The latter is simply a by-product of
should be on the public agenda now is a serious discussion about
proposals for national health care and single-payer plans. This
sentiment was brought forward repeatedly in speeches and interviews
at the annual convention of Students for a National Health Program,
meeting this month in Philadelphia. Matthew Moy, a fellow at the
American Medical Student Association, told the Philadelphia
the gathering, “When you believe that health care is a human right,
the only way to adequately and efficiently provide that for everybody
is through a single-payer system, which won’t waste money with a
middleman insurance company telling you where you need to go.”
will need to see through the right-wing fog of rhetoric in order to
go beyond the Republican plan, beyond Obamacare, and towards a
universal health-care system with access for all.
>> The article above was written by Joe Auciello and is reprinted from Socialist Action.