Under the Republican American Health Care Act, 2.7 million New Yorkers would lose coverage and the state’s budget would take a $6.9 billion hit, including $2.3 billion as a direct result of an amendment that targets New York State specifically. It would be devastating to New Yorkers, and the Congressional Budget Office’s report confirms that. Just how bad? New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued this statement:
“The Congressional Budget Office’s report confirms what we already knew to be true—ultra-conservatives in Washington have declared war on New York’s health care system. What’s worse is that Republican members of our own Congressional delegation have aided and abetted in Washington’s war against New York, cutting taxes for millionaires while jeopardizing care for seniors, women, the middle class and the disabled.
“The radical Republican health plan will devastate New York’s health care system, strip 2.7 million New Yorkers of their health care coverage, and roll back the progress we have made to protect vulnerable Americans. This bill will cost New York State a total of $6.9 billion, including $2.3 billion as a direct result of the disastrous amendment introduced by Congressmen Faso and Collins.
“As radical ideologues race to impose their extremist agenda on Americans, New Yorkers say no. In New York, we will stand up for our progressive principles and protect the right to affordable and quality health care for all. I will continue to work with our Congressional delegation and New York’s health care leaders to defeat this reckless legislation.”
The American Health Care Act will leave 23 million more Americans uninsured and be disastrous for New York:
The plan will leave 2.7 million New Yorkers without health care coverage.
It will cost New York a total of $6.9 billion.
It will put at risk a total of 7 million people who rely on Medicaid services and other programs created under the Affordable Care Act.
And it threatens the entire New York State health care system, which serves 19.5 million New Yorkers.
The Collins/Faso amendment, which targets only New York, stops counties from paying a share of Medicaid. It would have a devastating effect on New Yorkers:
It will cut $2.3 billion in Medicaid funding to the State.
Steep cuts would force New York State to increase taxes, slash coverage to millions of New Yorkers, or devastate health care providers. As a result of the AHCA bill:
Hospital payments would be cut by $944 million in total
Nursing Home payments would be cut by $819 million in total
Home care payments would be cut by $734 million in total
The bill punishes New York for its support for women’s reproductive rights by threatening to take away citizens’ access to tax credits that are intended to make health insurance more affordable:
New York requires that all commercial insurance policies cover abortion services. In January, Governor Cuomo took new action to ensure that contraceptive drugs and devices are covered by commercial health insurance policies without co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles.
The Republican health care bill would prohibit the use of tax credits to support the purchase of insurance plans that cover abortion services.
As a result, the bill would effectively defund the Essential Plan, forcing 685,000 low-income people, half of whom are women, to lose their insurance and denying them $1.5 billion in tax credits.
In addition, roughly 143,000 lower-income New Yorkers whose income is just above the threshold for the Essential Plan, half of whom are women, would be denied $400 million more in tax credits that help them afford insurance.
This bill also includes an amendment that will enable insurers to charge more for people with preexisting conditions in some states, rolling back a key achievement of the Affordable Care Act:
In New York, 8.4 million people under the age of 65 have preexisting conditions.
The MacArthur amendment would allow states to opt out of provisions that restrict providers from raising prices on people with preexisting conditions.
Removing protections for people with pre-existing conditions will result in the sick paying high premiums and would force those who cannot afford it to lose coverage.
The health plan would also permit states to charge older people more, which would also force people who cannot afford it to lose coverage.
But here’s the thing: even though the Senate Republicans have said they are drafting its own health care law, they are still not bothering to confer with health care providers, health care insurers, patients or state and local officials. It is likely that even if the impacts are softened, any proposal which is designed to cater to healthy, young Americans (by allowing them to not buy insurance), and empower insurance companies to charge whatever they like to cover separate items like maternity, mental illness, addiction, pre-existing conditions (life is a pre-existing condition), to charge penalties for lapses in coverage and to charge older Americans up to five times what younger people pay, and no longer pay for wellness or preventive services, will result in tens of millions of Americans being unable to afford health insurance, being underinsured (making the policies useless), will bankrupt families of their ability to save for college or retirement or home ownership. Americans will find themselves trapped in horrible jobs or abusive marriages because they can’t afford to lose health insurance. It isn’t just the 20% of Americans who must purchase on the individual market: lifting the mandates will mean that employers will be free to stop offering health benefits altogether, or will require hefty pay-ins, or will offer bare-bones policies that leave people without protection and care. Children who are born with health issues will be faced with lifetime caps. A family will again face the insecurity of being just one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. Hospitals, especially in rural communities, will shut down. Tens of thousands of people a year will die prematurely and needlessly for lack of access to health care, and tens of thousands more will suffer for lack of care. Society will suffer lost productivity while paying more money to cover those who are forced to use emergency rooms for medical care, leaving the rest of us to pick up the tab.
Passing the Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act, which is scheduled for a vote in the House on Thursday, March 23, would mean a 10 percent tax increase on all New Yorkers, or, if Republicans also “reform” the tax code, a 26 percent increase on middle class New Yorkers, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo warned.
What is more, hospitals in Congressmen Peter King’s and Lee Zeldin’s districts on Long Island would lose $57 million in funding.
“The American Health Care Act as drafted by the Republican Congress and amended by [Congressmen Chris] Collins and [John] Faso will devastate the New York Healthcare system,” Cuomo stated. “The Republican plan will leave 2.7 million New Yorkers without healthcare and cut $4.7 billion from the state’s Medicaid budget. This comes after the Republicans promised the exact opposite: That no American would lose healthcare and that no block grant would cut funding to the state.”
“Life has options and the hard reality is that Collins and Faso are leaving New York State with only two unacceptable choices. Either, we could pass on the devastating cuts to our hospitals, nursing homes and the 40 percent of New Yorkers who currently receive Medicaid and health benefits. Or, we would be forced to raise state income taxes – either by increasing taxes on all New Yorkers by 10 percent, or if Collins and Faso have their way in protecting only the wealthy, on the middle class by 26 percent. Any tax increase flies in the face of New York’s success in reducing spending and taxes to record lows.
“To devastate our healthcare industry will not only affect millions of lives, but disrupt one of the state’s main economic engines. Healthcare is a pillar of the New York economy.
“Make no mistake. The Republican house members are recklessly attempting to buy votes for the AHCA with an IOU to the New York taxpayers. One nonsensical suggestion is that the state should ‘find the money.’ We have cut our spending to record low limits. Five years ago we imposed a 3 percent cap on the growth of Medicaid in New York. Our hospital sector operates on the lowest margins in the country. New York’s 3 percent rate of growth is lower than most other states.
“If the federal government wants to buy votes, let them pay for it.
“It’s absurd to ask the state to pay the cost, while the same bill provides a $150 billion tax cut to the 1 percent richest Americans and Republicans in Congress also support a record $54 billion increase for the Pentagon. If they think that $4.7 billion is merely chump change, they should factor it into their own budget – propose $145 billion tax break or a $49 billion increase to the defense budget.
Hospitals in King, Zeldin Districts Would Lose $57 Million
What is more, an analysis by the New York State Department of Health shows that hospitals in the districts of Republican Congressmen Lee Zeldin and Peter King would lose millions.
The seven hospitals in Zeldin’s 1st Congressional District would lose $41.2 million in funding if the Ryan/Collins/Faso health care repeal is passed, crippling their ability to provide critical health care services for local residents and jeopardizing hundreds of jobs across the district.
Stony Brook University Hospital – $27,123,469
Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center – $5,827,691
Eastern Long Island Hospital – $673,801
John T. Mather Memorial Hospital – $2,542,069
Peconic Bay Medical Center – $1,993,305
Southampton Hospital – $1,021,658
St. Charles Hospital – $1,970,589
District Total – $41,152,582
The three hospitals in Republican Congressman Peter King’s 2nd Congressional District would lose $14.6 million in funding:
Good Samaritan Hospital of West Islip — $6,015,802 in cuts
St. Joseph Hospital — $1,253,535 in cuts
Southside Hospital — $7,319,357 in cuts
District Total— $14,588,694 in cuts
“The radical conservative ideology in Washington has declared war on New York with legislation that will devastate hospitals across the state and hurt New Yorkers,”Governor Cuomo said. “These massive cuts will cripple our hospitals and ravage the health care services on which New Yorkers rely, with $41.2 million in cuts to hospitals in the 1st District and $14.6 million in cuts to hospitals in the 2nd District alone. I urge members of the community to call their member of Congress and demand that they vote ‘no’ on this unconscionable piece of legislation.”
“If the Republican representatives are responsible to their districts, they must provide federal revenue to pay for their actions. Isn’t it their job to help – rather than hurt – their district?
“If this bill is passed as is, our federal representatives will be responsible for massive income or sales tax increases or devastating cuts to New York’s healthcare system. That is the plain reality. No political rhetoric can change it. New Yorkers will hold them accountable for their vote. This is radical conservative ideology at work rather than real public policy to help the very people of this state who elected them.”
(MINEOLA, NY) –Nassau County Democrats are raising alarms about what repealing the Affordable Care Act would mean for county residents and appealed to County Executive Ed Mangano to compile a comprehensive report that would quantify the impact on residents and the county’s budget.
Minority Democratic Leader Kevan Abrahams and Legislator Laura Curran stood with their democratic legislative colleagues, along with local healthcare advocates including Long Island Progressive Coalition and Nassau County Planned Parenthood calling upon the Nassau County Executive, commissioners, and administrators to compile a comprehensive report that measures the impact of what looks like the inevitable repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
According to a report issued by New York State’s Office of the Governor on January 4, 2017, Nassau County stands to lose $17,866,829 in direct funding which “goes directly to counties and helps to lower property taxes”.
Under the ACA, Nassau County saw a 33% decrease in the number of uninsured according to the most recent U.S. Census. The number of uninsured people on Long Island has declined rapidly over the last decade, while the proposed GOP healthcare bill will undo that work by putting 24 million at risk of losing coverage, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The American Health Care Act proposed by the Republican Party may affect more than 1 in 4 Nassau residents. Those at risk of coverage changes include, but are not limited to, the 204,681 Nassau seniors enrolled in Medicare and 133,324 residents who enrolled on the Affordable Care Act’s open marketplace.
“After making inroads for more affordable healthcare access, the proposed law could force counties to choose between supporting low-income residents who rely on Medicaid for health services,” said Minority Legislative Leader, Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport).
“President Trump is leading us down a very dangerous path and County Government is going to be left holding the bag while taxpayers’ costs could skyrocket. Trumpcare is no longer a campaign talking point but an imminent threat to the financial and physical health of our community, and we must be prepared,” said Legislator Laura Curran (D-Baldwin). “Repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with Trump’s alternative is going to drive a massive hole in the County budget while leaving more residents uninsured and without the benefits of preventative care. So that the County is prepared for these massive changes, County Executive Mangano, County Commissioners, and Department Administrators must immediately start preparing a report that outlines the real impact of losing the Affordable Care Act and what it will mean for Nassau taxpayers.”
Today, Nassau Democratic Legislators called upon the Nassau County Executive, county commissioners and department administrators to prepare an impact study that outlines the real impact losing the affordable care will have on Nassau County residents and the services they receive.
Such a study was just announced by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and is being undertaken by county governments all over the country, Lisa Tyson, Executive Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, said.
“The repeal of the Affordable Care Act will deprive Long Islanders’ access to affordable healthcare that can be a matter of life-and-death. Nassau County residents deserve to know how losing the Affordable Care Act might affect their family both financially and physically,” she said.
The repeal of the Affordable Care Act. could be detrimental to citizens of Nassau most in need: low-income families, young adults, seniors and those in need of mental health care and substance abuse treatment. All these programs are at risk of being affected as the legislation currently stands.
“Repealing the Affordable Care Act will have real consequences for our community and we need to know how many of our neighbors will be affected and what costs will fall to the County. Obvious questions are whether our Medicaid costs will rise, and by how much; how increased emergency room visits will affect Nassau University Medical Center; whether the workload and costs of the County’s Department of Health will skyrocket; whether the County’s drug abuse rates are likely to soar due to diminished treatment options; the projected costs that will result; and many more. Governor Cuomo estimates that 133,000 Nassau residents (one out of ten residents) would lose coverage, and that should serve as a chilling wake-up call to every stakeholder in government and healthcare. Our taxpayers deserve to know exactly how much they will be affected by Washington’s costly decisions, and the County’s planning must start now,” said Legislator Curran.
Older residents will see a rise in healthcare premiums, with a projected 20-25% increase for those in their early 60s, given the current proposed GOP tax credit structure, which does not take income into account. For Nassau’s poor and working families, the halting of Medicaid expansion coupled with rising premiums will disintegrate any chance of affordable healthcare.
“Repealing the Affordable Care Act and defunding Planned Parenthood will mean that many women – across the country and right here in Nassau County –who receive their care at Planned Parenthood health centers won’t receive care at all. We are calling on congress to stop these political attacks, but, until they do, Planned Parenthood will leave no stone unturned in fighting back for our patients and ensuring that our doors stay open,” said PPNC President & CEO JoAnn Smith.
For Long Islander Rachel Siehs, not having healthcare at a most crucial time in her life could have been a matter of life-and-death. After Rachel was laid off from her job in October 2015 she battled the very same conflict so many do when they lose their health insurance – in this case, she gotten it from her previous employer. “I was on the fence if I should buy health insurance? I couldn’t afford Cobra. Plus, I am young and healthy and thought I could wait to start a new job and acquire insurance that way,” said Rachel Siehs. “After discussing the issue with my parents, they encouraged me to find coverage on the Affordable Care Act marketplace and thankfully I did – I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma only two months later and would fight cancer for most of 2016.”
Since then, Rachel, 28 years old, has successfully fought Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She was able to see doctor because she had health coverage through the Affordable Health Act. Like many Americans, she risks losing health insurance again after the repeal.
“I don’t know if I would be here today if I didn’t seek coverage on the ACA marketplace. I would start a new job in January 2016 but my health insurance would not have kicked in until April. But also, who knows if I would have scheduled the doctor appointments if I would have had to pay completely out of pocket for them. The impact is real here in Nassau. Health care is important. It needs to be well thought out and studied and shouldn’t be a rushed vote. This is people’s lives,” said Rachel Siehs of Melville.
While County Executive Mangano has already indicated his disinterest in undertaking such a study, which he decried as purely political, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo did provide some indication of the impact on New Yorkers of the American Health Care Act – 2.7 million New Yorkers would face substantial loss in their health care coverage from what they have now, while quality and availability of health services across the state would be jeopardized. Also, an amendment just introduced by Chris Collins, an upstate Congressman (and Trump spokesman) and John Fasio, which would apply solely to New York State, would ban federal reimbursement for state Medicaid funds for local governments outside of New York City, cutting Medicaid for these local governments by $2.3 billion. When added to the $4.5 billion cost of the ACHA over the next four years, the total cost to the State would rise to $6.9 billion.
Except for the cuts to the State Department which has some Republicans howling, the rest of Trump’s “America First” anti-American budget are the things the Conservatives have been fantasizing about but never had the guts to do because of the ramifications. Now they have someone who is putting himself out there who doesn’t bother considering the impacts on ordinary people.
This is as much Ryan’s budget as Trump’s, which likely will also enact massive tax cuts, paid for by slashing benefits to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, further exacerbating the inequality in wealth, political power and justice in this country that strains the limits to what this Democracy can sustain.
“This is our moment,” Vice President Mike Pence gleefully told the Club for Growth at the posh Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach.
For the first time in a decade, thanks to your hard work, we have a pro-growth House, we have a pro-growth Senate, and we have a pro-growth President of the United States of America. (Applause.) And President Donald Trump I believe has laid out an agenda that is renewing the American spirit in ways that we haven’t seen since the days of Ronald Reagan.
This is our moment. This is the time. And my friends, this is our chance to prove that our answers are still the right answers for America. (Applause.)
More freedom. Lower taxes. Less regulation and smaller government. History will attest that when America builds on this foundation, we reach heights that once seemed unreachable.
And that is the foundation of this administration. President Trump’s vision is to unleash growth in America like never before, and the good news is: It’s already happening.
On Day One, President Trump went straight to work rolling back the reams of red tape. He instructed every bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. to find two regulations to get rid of before imposing any new red tape on the American people and on American free enterprise. (Applause.)
He’s already taken action to put the Keystone and Dakota pipelines on the path to approval, creating tens of thousands of American jobs and protecting our American energy future. (Applause.)
And just this past Monday, President Trump set into motion a plan to reorganize the executive branch — and that includes identifying and eliminating federal agencies that, frankly, we just plain don’t need anymore.
It’s leadership like that — you can applaud that if you like. (Applause.) It’s leadership like this that’s getting government out of the way of the American people and of American job creators.
Businesses are already reacting to President Trump’s vision and his renewed optimism and investment. And they’re investing in America in ways that are lifting and creating jobs.
Last month alone the economy added 235,000 jobs. Construction and manufacturing are booming once again. Business leaders and American consumers haven’t been this confident in years — and by some measures, in more than a decade.
Folks, the era of slow growth is over; a new era of American growth has begun. (Applause.)
You know and I know that economic growth begins with fiscal responsibility. I see my friend Senator Pat Toomey over there. We fought together in the House, shoulder to shoulder for fiscal restraint. And I know how enthusiastic he and the other great conservatives like Senator Mike Lee and others in the room are that just two days ago, President Donald Trump released the most conservative budget since Ronald Reagan sat in the Oval Office. (Applause.)
Our vision is simple. We want a government that will keep Americans safe and that leaves us free to do what the American people do best. That’s why our budget first and foremost gives our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources they need to complete their mission, protect our families, and come home safe to theirs. We’re rebuilding the American military under this Trump budget. (Applause.)
But also at the President’s direction, our budget offsets $54 billion in military spending with government spending cuts –a 31 percent cut at the E.P.A. (Applause.) Double-digit reductions in no fewer than 10 federal departments. (Applause.)
And, folks, The Washington Post actually ran a headline this week saying, they quote, “historic contraction of the federal workforce.” (Laughter.) They meant it as a warning, we took it as a compliment. (Applause.)
We’re going to end the waste, the fraud, the abuse in D.C and make sure that the American taxpayer gets the best bang for their buck. I got to tell you this businessman who has become President of the United States believes in sharpened pencils. And he’s been sharpening his pencils ever since the morning after Election Day.
But beyond the budget, we’re going to keep slashing all the job-killing regulationsand rein in unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. I want to commend the members of Congress for sending those congressional review act bills. We’re going to keep rolling back regulation every chance we get so that this economy can’t be crippled by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. sitting behind the comfort of their metal desks. (Applause.)
We’ve heard from businesses large and small, all across America that red tape is strangling their ability to create jobs, and to grow and thrive. That’s why we’re working to get government off their back.
We’re going to keep working with the Congress to repeal the last-minute mandates rushed through by the last administration. And, frankly, we’re taking a hard look at every regulation on the books — including, as President Trump said on Wednesday, the CAFE rule that is holding back the American automotive industry will now no longer stand in the way of economic prosperity and growth. (Applause.)
We’re making sure federal agencies fast-track projects and permits and don’t slow-walk them. And we’re going to roll back Dodd-Frank so that American businesses have access to the best financial system in the world. (Applause.)
And with this Cabinet — and how about this Cabinet? (Applause.) With this Cabinet, President Trump has picked men and women who know that bureaucrats don’t create jobs, businesses do.
The bottom line is that our agenda of more freedom and less regulation is going to usher in growth and opportunity and prosperity in this country like never before. And it’s the vision that the Club for Growth has been about advancing since the very beginning of this organization.
If you still have any doubt, there’s also something else I want you to know. We’re going to have the biggest tax reform and reduction in a generation in America before this year is out. (Applause.)
Under President Trump’s leadership, we’re going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms. It’s going to be pro-growth, pro-savings, and pro-hardworking Americans keeping more of their hard-earned dollar.
We’re going to simplify the tax code working with members of the House and Senate who are gathered here, and we’re going to have lower rates across the board.
We’re going to make American businesses competitive again by slashing one of the highest corporate rates in the developed world and letting American companies bring the money back from overseas so they can invest in American and create American jobs with a lower business rate. (Applause.)
And not only that, and I promise to you working with members of Congress, we’re going to repeal hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes when we repeal and replace Obamacare. (Applause.)
My friends, the Obamacare nightmare is about to end. Now, I don’t have to remind people here at the Club for Growth why this failed law has to go. You all have seen the headlines, and you know the facts. You’ve lived them in many places all over the country — skyrocketing premiums, unaffordable deductibles, mandates, higher taxes. The truth is the American people can’t afford Obamacare, and it’s time we no longer ask them to put up with it. (Applause.)
In his joint address to Congress two weeks ago, the President outlined his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all. And we’re working with members of Congress to advance that plan.
Make no mistake about it: Our plan is pro-growth and pro-freedom. It ends Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates by eliminating their penalties by the time the whole plan is unfurled. It repeals the taxes I just mentioned right out of the gate. It expands health savings accounts. It enacts the biggest reform in Medicaid since the creation of that program in 1965.
These are the kind of solutions that conservatives like us have been talking about for years. And they’re now within our reach. And let me be blunt: We need your help to get this plan passed. The House is set to vote next week on the beginning of this process. It’s called the American Health Care Act, and it is a crucial step towards fulfilling our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare with something that actually works.
Now I know that there have been concerns expressed with the bill as it currently stands. And just know that the President and I are and our entire administration are listening. We’re working with members of Congress to improve the bill and to make this bill even better than it already is..
And we’re working with every single [Republican] member of Congress — the Republican Study Committee, the Freedom Caucus, the Senate Steering Committee, and all the lawmakers here tonight, just to name a few. Thanks to their input, we’ve actually added a number of great amendments just in the last 24 hours.
Beginning with, we’re going to stop more states from expanding Medicaid by ceasing the expansion for states that did not expand Medicaid under Obamacare immediately. (Applause.)
Because of the voices of conservatives in Congress, we’re going to be amending the Ho bill to give states the option for a Medicaid in a block grant in its entirety so states can reform Medicaid in the way that they see fit. (Applause.)
And thanks to the leadership and the collaboration of many of the great conservatives in this room, we’re going to have an amendment to allow states to include a work requirement for able-bodied adults on Medicaid so we can ensure the program is there for people who actually need it. [So if you’ve lost your job, were laid off, your company goes bankrupt, you are doomed.] (Applause.)
Folks, I meant it when I said we’re listening. And the President is going to continue to engage members of Congress in ways that we can improve this legislation. We had a meeting just yesterday in the Oval Office, and I was pleased that the leadership of the Republican Study Committee endorsed the bill that’s moving through the House, and we’re grateful for their support.
And while we’re having a vigorous debate, the good news is that Republicans are in complete agreement, and we have complete consensus that Obamacare must go. (Applause.)
We’ll continue to advance the President’s agenda, and how we work that out is going to be the result of the legislative process and administrative action. But President Trump’s vision is very simple: a national health-care marketplace and state-based Medicaid reform; allowing the American people to purchase health insurance across state lines the way you buy life insurance, the way you buy car insurance, and allowing states the freedom and flexibility to redesign Medicaid around the unique needs of their own people is a pathway toward a more prosperous future and better healthcare for the American people. (Applause.)
And it’s important to remember that our healthcare plan doesn’t begin and end with the bill that’s moving through the Congress today. I wanted to make it clear to all of you this is only one part of the President’s three-part strategy. The other two tracks are just as important in restoring free-market principles to American health care.
At this very moment, our administration is evaluating every possible administrative action to get government out of the way and allow for state-based innovation and reform.
The name of the game is to seize the opportunity to change the regulations, and we’ve got a great team with Dr. Tom Price and Seema Verma heading up HHS and the Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services to do it.
Just this past week, they both sent a letter to every single one of America’s governors saying, “a new era for federal and state Medicaid partnership” has begun — and so it has. (Applause.)
Under Dr. Tom Price’s leadership with Seema Verma at his side running Medicaid, we’re going to give our states the freedom and flexibility they need with Medicaid to implement the kind of reforms that will do the most good for the most vulnerable — state-based solutions, not one-size-fits-all federal solutions. And remember that truthfully it is about improving Medicaide[sic]….
And we’re going to continue to partner with the Congress to pass other important healthcare reforms, including we’re going to pass medical malpractice reform at last. (Applause.) We’re going to allow businesses around America to participate in association health plans, and as I mentioned before, we’re going to give Americans the freedom to buy health insurance across state lines — an idea whose time has come.
Not before too long I expect we’re going to see that little lizard and Flo on television selling health insurance just the way they sell car insurance and sell life insurance. (Laughter and applause.)
Our three-part strategy, once enacted, we truly believe will create a dynamic national health-insurance marketplace, which is the key to making affordable, high-quality coverage accessible for every American.
Now we can’t lose sight of what’s at stake in the coming weeks. This is a momentous time. We literally have an opportunity to begin to accomplish what everyone in this room has fought so hard to achieve for so long. And President Trump and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you — the men and women in public life who are here, and those of you who are patrons and supporters that are present.
And know this: When we repeal and replace Obamacare, we will also make room for even more tax relief for working families, small businesses, and family farms when we take up tax reform this spring. (Applause.)
But health care isn’t the only place where we need your partnership. The same goes for the rest of our pro-growth, pro-freedom agenda.
Quite frankly, we’re counting on you. And we know you’ll be there. You’ve already demonstrated — many of you for many years here at Club for Growth — your dedication to the principles that we all share.
I look around this room and I see true patriots — men and women who love this country and have been willing to devote your time and your talent andyour treasure to the country’s future without any regard to whether you’d ever be acknowledged or ever get credit for it. Those great candidates that you’ve supported over the years, and that now people the hallways of the House and the Senate serving the American people.The debt this country owes to the men and women in this organization and throughout the conservative movement can only be repaid by keeping faith with the ideals and the principles that you have sought to advance….
The reason that we’re here with a pro-growth President and a pro-growth Congress on the cusp of repealing the failed policies of Obamacareis because, on the cusp of transformational tax reform, on the cusp of a whole range of reforms that will enliven this country’s economy and open doors of opportunities for millions of Americans is that year after year,all of you in this room and conservatives around America never gave up. And I’m just here to say thanks, and to tell you to press on.
My friends, this is our moment. Now is the time. This is our rendezvous with destiny. And I know we’ll meet the challenge. It will come together. We’ll give all of our energy, our enthusiasm, our courage, and our conviction, our passion, and our prayers. And in that, I’m confident — I’m confident we’ll make the most of the opportunity before us. And under President Trump’s leadership, I know we’ll get this economy moving again. Under his leadership, I know we’ll restore opportunity and prosperity for all our people. We’ll make the best healthcare system in the world even better with free-market principles, more jobs, higher incomes, better healthcare in a safer and more prosperous America.
In a word, my friends, with your help, and with God’s help, we’ll make America great again.
Thank you very much. Thanks for having me back and God bless you and God bless the United State of America. (Applause.)
Pool Reporter Alex Leary, Washington Bureau Chief for the Tampa Bay Times, brings us into the inner sanctum of the White House to learn how Donald Trump and Mike Pence are manipulating the debate over the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) with the Republicans’ American Health Care Plan (Ryancare).
On March 13, he hosted a group of Obamacare “victims”, followed by his first-ever meeting of his Cabinet which featured remarks by Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price’s dismissal of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scathing report projecting that 24 million people would lose health care under the Republican plan:
This is Leary’s report:
POTUS entered the room at 11:26 a.m. and pool was inside for roughly 33 minutes.
POTUS thanked the participants for sharing their stories about “the very, very failed and failing Obamacare law.”
Several times POTUS complained about news media coverage of the debate. “The press is making Obamacare look so good suddenly. I’m watching the news. It looks so good. … First of all, it covers very few people and it’s imploding. And ’17 will be the worst year.”
POTUS cast the coverage as nostalgia. “It’s a little bit like President Obama. When he left, people liked him. When he was here, people didn’t like him so much. That’s the way life goes. That’s human nature. The fact is, Obamacare is a disaster.”
The best political play, POTUS said, would to let the law collapse on its own over the coming year – “because it’s going to blow itself off the map. But that’s the wrong thing to do for the country. It’s the wrong thing to do for our citizens.”
POTUS said his administration and “a lot of people in the Senate and a lot of people in the House are committed to repealing and replacing this disastrous law with a health care plan that lowers costs, expands choice and ensures access for everyone. You represent the millions of Americans who have seen their Obamacare premiums increase by double-digit and even triple-digits …”
POTUS said the House bill would provide “far” more choices at lower costs. “Americans should pick the plan they want. Now they’ll be able to pick the plan. They’ll be able pick the doctor they want. They’ll be able to do a lot of things that the other plan was supposed to give and it never gave. …”
“You’re not going to have one-size-fits-all. Instead, we’re going to be working to unleash the power of the private marketplace to let insurers come in and compete for your business and you’ll see rates go down, down, down and you’ll see plans go up, up, up. You’ll have a lot of choices. You’ll have plans that nobody is even thinking of today.”
Seated across the table in the Roosevelt Room was VPOTUS. At one head of the table was HHS Secretary Tom Price; at the other. Gary Cohn, director of the White House’s National Economic Council.
The rest of the table was filled out by individuals (see list below) invited to tell their stories.
A collection of Obamacare “victims” from across the country shared their stories. (names below as provided by WH).
But first, more from POTUS, who said the Obamacare repeal and replacement must come in three steps, due to working with Congress. “I’d love to do it all in one package, but if you did it that way, it can’t get done.”
As pool was led out, a reporter asked POTUS if he had “any message” for people worried about losing coverage if Obamacare goes away.
“It’ll get better. If we’re allowed to do what we want to do, it will get better. Much better.,” POTUS replied. “Hopefully it will get very good.”
Carrie Couey, from Colorado, said her rates are “three times” higher than when Obamacare began and that has hurt her family cattle ranching business. “We can’t afford our equipment if we’re paying these rates year after year after year. Our food source is in jeopardy because of this health care law.”
Brittany Ivey, Georgia, said she left a full-time job in 2009 to raise her two children. She said a family plan for four cost them $650 per month and by 2015, it had gone up “102 percent.” She said her husband’s employer dropped the family from coverage so she looked for a new job but couldn’t find one that offered insurance. At that point, the family got Obamacare. “We believed the sales pitch that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Even though we were going to have to pay $1,300 a month for Obamacare, we thought we’d still be ok with our doctors.” But she said doctors would not accept the coverage. “We paid them $8,000 in five months and were never able to use it.” She and her husband earn a combined $74,000 a year, Ivey said, but health care is too burdensome. “It’s almost put our family in financial ruin.”
Elias Seife, Florida, said his individual plan was canceled. He said his parents came from Communist Cuba. “They know what socialism is all about. I know what socialism is … and this whole system was meant to have one single provider.”
Kim Sertich, Arizona, said her premium last year was $365 a month and it had risen to $809 a month this year, with a deductible of $6,800. “It just didn’t seem like a good use of my money,” she said, adding she had opted out and went into a faith-based program.
Louis Brown, Virginia, said he worked for the Democratic National Committee when the Affordable Care Act was going through Congress in 2009 and that he later resigned, citing opposition to abortion. He supported Trump in the election and said that he was on hand to support efforts to place people “at the center of our American health care system, not the government.”
Manny Sethi, Tennessee, says he runs nonprofit called Healthy Tennessee and that he’s noticed that people can’t afford rising premiums. “So what they are doing is, effectively, they’re paying the tax penalty because it’s cheaper and works out better than paying for the insurance. That’s been a big problem that we’re seeing across the state.”
Joel Brown, Tennessee, said he’s in farming and he considered paying the penalty for not carrying insurance. He said there is only one option for coverage, Blue Cross Blue Shield Tennessee and the premium is $540 a month with a $7,000 deductible. “You’ve got to pay a high premium for a plan that I don’t need or don’t want.”
Robin Armstrong, Texas, said a lot of patients are not adequately covered by Obamacare and are hit with high premiums and deductibles. “I actually read the bill that’s been produced, that’s coming out of the House now and I really like a lot of the changes in it. I think this is going to correct a lot of issues that Obamacare has had.”
Gina Sell, Wisconsin, said she’s a nurse and mother and had to get a full-time position to pay the costs. “We could not afford a premium of $1,200 per month and a deductible that didn’t cover anything.” She said now the deductible is $6,500 “and so if I have a child who is extremely sick, it’s going to cost me hundreds of dollars.” Last week, she said, her daughter had a fever and she sent her to school for “three days straight because I had to work to afford our insurance” and couldn’t pay for a trip to the doctor. “It has been devastating for our family.”
Greg Knox, Ohio, began by giving POTUS a note and drawing from his 11-year-old son. The note was written on the back of a cutout face with orangeish hair. “Looks nothing like you,” Knox said to laughter. POTUS flashed a big smile and said, “I wish I looked that good.” Knox said he had meet with Secretary Price and Vice President Pence during a recent roundtable in Cincinnati. “We have the best health care system in the world. We do. But it needs to be fixed. Small business owners like myself — I’m a manufacturer — what we’d like to see is not a government-operated market but a free market.”
Stan Summers, Utah, said his son was born premature 26 years ago and they had good insurance but it deteriorated over time. Enter the ACA. “I’m not going to call it the other word. I call it the last president’s health care bill. I don’t need to say that name.” (POTUS: “Other than that, you like him a lot.” Laughter.) Summers said he has three businesses and drives a school bus to provide coverage for his family. He said he expects to meet a $6,000 deductible in April.
Secretary Price gave brief remarks about the stories. “This is about real people, about real patients.” He said he was “really excited” to help install a replacement.
POTUS then again bemoaned what he deemed “wonderful press” about Obamacare. “It’s a horrible thing, actually, and getting worse.”
VPOTUS thanked the participants. “These people are emblematic of the Americans that Obamacare has failed.”
Trump Convenes His First Cabinet Meeting
Later, at 3:48 pm, Trump convened the first-ever meeting of his Cabinet, lamenting that, “We have four empty seats, which is a terrible thing.
“Because the Senate Democrats are continuing to obstruct the confirmation of our nominees for the Department of Labor, the Department of Agriculture, the director of national intelligence and the United States Trade Representative, somebody I want very badly. … The main victim of this very partisan obstruction is the American public.”
POTUS began by giving an update on the approaching storm…
He then touted actions by the nascent administration, including stripping away “job crushing” regulations, and alluded to the coming executive order to “begin the process of reorganizing the executive branch to make it less wasteful and more productive.”
POTUS reiterated his earlier remarks about Obamacare and talked about the replacement plan on Capitol Hill. “It’s a big, fat beautiful negotiation,” he said, drawing snickers. “Hopefully we’ll come up with something that’s going to be really terrific.” He thanked “Paul Ryan” and “Mitch.”
POTUS said he’d be sending a budget request with the major increase in defense spending. “And it will be fully paid for,” POTUS said, Secretary James Mattis on his left. “I saved a lot of money on those jets, didn’t I? Did I do a good job?”
POTUS talked about immigration and enhancing vetting. “We will not rest until the job is done.”
“This is our first Cabinet meeting,” POTUS said. “I hope this is going to be a historic Cabinet meeting, historic in the sense that we’re going to do a fantastic job for the American people, for our country and for the future of our country.”
He did not respond to a request for comment on the “wiretapping.”
A number of officials were on hand, including Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.
HHS Secretary Price ‘Disagrees Strenuously” With CBO Report on GOP Health Care Plan
“We disagree strenuously with the report that was put out,” HHS Secretary Tom Price told reporters at the White House after the CBO score was released on the GOP health care plan.
Price argued that the CBO report looked “at a portion of our plan, but not the entire plan.” He explained that HHS can employ the “regulatory apparatus” to “make certain that patients are helped and that costs are decreased.”
Price said CBO ignored other legislative action.
“We believe that our plan will cover more individuals at a lower cost and give them the choices that they want for the coverage that they want for themselves and their family, not that the government forces them to buy.”
OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said he had not read the entire CBO report but found a bright spot. “The numbers that I’ve seen in the first glance is that CBO says that premiums will go down by at least 10 percent.”
A reporter noted that CBO got to that figure by estimating that fewer older Americans would get coverage but Price waved that away, again saying CBO did not take into account the full plan for repeal and replace. “The fact of the matter is, we’re working on the regulations right now.”
Asked about the report’s finding that 14 million more people would be left without insurance next year, Price said it’s “virtually impossible to have that number occur.”
Reporter: So CBO is wrong, they are not credible?
“Well, you just look at the numbers,” Price said. “There are 8-9 million people who are on the exchange currently. I’m not sure how they are going to get 14 million people uninsured, if that’s what they say, with only 8 million people on the exchange.
“They are individuals, I guess that they assume that are on Medicaid who aren’t paying anything in the Medicaid system who are not going to take the Medicaid policy just because the mandate ended or something happened. It’s just not believable is what we would suggest. We’ll look at the numbers and see.”
Reporter: Without that mandate to buy coverage, wouldn’t you concede there will be millions of uninsured?
“No, I wouldn’t concede that at all,” Price said. “The fact of the matter is they are going to be able to a coverage policy that they want for themselves and for their family. They are going to have the kind of choices that they want. … So we think that CBO simply has it wrong.”
Mulvaney echoed those points, criticizing CBO for assuming Medicaid changes will happen “on day one. It’s just absurd.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo, in response to a question posed by Mark Halperin on MSNBC, said:“Obviously the consequences for a state like New York could be devastating. Depending on what they do, you have 3 million people who are insured under Obamacare. What are you going to do with the 3 million people? Medicaid is a big piece of our budget. They talk about block grants, turning it over to the state. That sounds great. The question is when they block grant it, do they actually transfer the money? Remember the old expression, passing the buck without passing the bucks. Governor of New York, my fear is the rhetoric of give it back to the states sounds great, but if they give it back to the states and they cut the funding, you put the states in a really terrible situation. So I get the political appeal of repeal Obamacare, but you know, be careful what you ask for and I think this is the dog that chases the car. What are they going to do? And you have millions and millions of people who are affected and you could devastate the budget. I just did my budget. I said, “Look, I don’t have a contingency plan.” Because I don’t know what they’re going to do, and frankly, they could take an action for which there is no contingency plan. There are rumors that they could cut the state of New York 2, 3 billion dollars. I can’t make up 2, 3 billion dollars. It would wreak havoc in this state. So it’s their move and I want to see what they come up with.”
Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, commenting on a proposed amendment from Congressman Collins (R-NY), said:
“Our Founding Fathers warned us this day would come. Partisan politics would overtake good government for the people. The Medicaid changes being proposed in Washington would cut taxes for wealthy special interests while devastating New York State’s finances and all but eliminating health care for the most vulnerable New Yorkers.
“What’s worse, a New York Republican Congressman, Chris Collins is offering an amendment that would wreak havoc on the state. While I understand that the Democrats in Washington are attacking Collins on ethics issues and are having a heated political fight, they shouldn’t be played out at the expense of everyday New Yorkers.
“Here are the facts: The overall Medicaid plan would cost the state billions of dollars of lost federal funds and jeopardize hospital stability. As if that were not enough, Rep. Collins would have the state assume the counties’ share of Medicaid expenses outside of New York City. The current breakdown is 13 percent county, 36 percent state, and 51 percent federal. This ill-conceived plan would cost his home state approximately $2.3 billion. Unbelievably, that’s on top of the cost of the Republican Affordable Care Act repeal plan – another $2.4 billion.
“Translation: Rep. Collins is proposing a tax increase on New Yorkers to the tune of $4.7 billion. This one-two punch would destroy all the hard work the Governor and Legislature have accomplished in the last six years to lower taxes across the board and achieve the lowest spending increases in recorded history. New Yorkers will be at risk of losing their healthcare, hospitals will be forced to lay off workers, and our vulnerable elderly will find it much harder to afford nursing home care.
“On the merits, the counties have no right to claim this is an undue burden. They paid a percentage of health care costs even before Medicaid – and in fact, currently have a more favorable agreement than in decades.
“In 1960 – well before New York State and most counties had any sales tax revenue to pay for it – Congress passed the Kerr-Mills Act, which created a national role in funding health care for the elderly. Under this program, the counties in New York paid approximately 44 percent of the cost of care, the state paid about 38 percent, and the federal government paid around 18 percent.
“In 1965, Medicaid replaced that program and the counties paid 25 percent. That same year, the state began giving counties the option of collecting sales tax on their behalf. Every county in New York has subsequently agreed to this option. Many counties in the nation don’t get sales tax, and most of those receive less than our counties. Moreover, the state recently agreed to give the counties additional help – after hearing the counties’ complaints of the growing Medicaid costs, the state has held them harmless for any increases since 2011.
“As a result, the counties’ share for Medicaid is down from 25 percent to 13 percent, and the state assumed this cost while still living within the 2 percent spending cap, and all while cutting taxes. The state is not asking the counties to do anything more than we have done ourselves. In fact, the state has done far more. If the Collins amendment passed, the state would need to raise income taxes or the counties would have to forego their share of sales tax in exchange for the state picking up the additional Medicaid costs.
“In short, Rep. Collins’ amendment and the Affordable Care Act repeal would transfer $4.7 billion in costs to the state which would translate into a new tax for New Yorkers. I know firsthand that the people of the 27th Congressional District face enough challenges in their lives – they don’t need to worry about increasing health care costs or new taxes.
“Rep. Collins should stop prioritizing his wealthy friends and start helping his home state by protecting the most vulnerable from losing their healthcare and putting the state budget at risk. Remember, as my mentor Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to always point out, New York is a donor state – we pay more in federal taxes than we receive back.
“Mr. Collins, try practicing good government rather than partisan politics.”
The only ones the Trump/Pence/Ryan/McConnell Administration care about, speak to are the ultra-rightwing conservatives. This from the White House, Friday, March 10:
READOUT OF THE VICE PRESIDENT’S LISTENING SESSION WITH CONSERVATIVE LEADERS
Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price assembled dozens of conservative leaders today at the White House to discuss the multi-faceted effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. The Vice President and the Secretary highlighted the work being accomplished through legislative and regulatory efforts to end Obamacare’s government takeover of healthcare and provide market-based reforms that will lower costs and provide more choice to Americans. They also invited conservative groups to continue offering their ideas for improving healthcare in America and agreed to keep communication channels open as the President and Congress work to fulfill the promise of repealing and replacing the flawed Obamacare law.
The following individuals participated:
Thomas Binion, Heritage Foundation
Melissa Ortiz, Able Americans
Mia Heck, ALEC
Jason Pye, FreedomWorks
Matthew Schlapp, American Conservative Union
Nan Swift, National Taxpayers Union
Richard Manning, Americans for Limited Government
Grace Turner, Galen Institute
Kenneth Cuccinelli, Senate Conservatives Fund
Jennifer Butler, State Policy Network
Daniel Schneider, American Conservative Union
John McKechnie, ABA Health Savings Account (HSA) Council
Stephen Keen, National Federation of Independent Business
Lisa Nelson, ALEC
Jennifer Hatten, ABA Health Savings Account (HSA) Council
David Bozell, ForAmerica
Phil Kerpen, American Commitment
Peter Sepp, National Taxpayers Union
Timothy Chapman, Heritage Action
Bradley Close, National Federation of Independent Business
Kent Lassmam, Competitive Enterprise Institute
Jennifer Martin, Tea Party Patriots
Shonda Kalra, Tea Party Patriots
Amanda Moorhead, National Federation of Independent Business
Bill Pascoe, Tea Party Patriots
Christopher Jacobs, Texas Public Policy Foundation
Adam Brandon, FreedomWorks
Michael Cannon, CATO
Bob Carlstrom, Association of Mature American Citizens
Andy Roth, Club for Growth
Heather Curry, CATO
More than one million New Yorkers may lose their health care coverage if the House Republican’s American Health Care Act is enacted. That is the assessment of the state’s Department of Health analysis.
“Health care is a human right, not a luxury,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo stated. “After seven years of progress under the Affordable Care Act, the Republican Congress has proposed an inadequate, ill-conceived and unacceptable plan that places the coverage of more than 1 million New Yorkers in jeopardy and, once fully phased in, would shift more than $2.4 billion in costs onto taxpayers and hospitals each year.
“Healthcare experts across the Country have rejected the Republican plan outright citing the devastating impact on patients and provides. The AARP says it will weaken Medicare and hike premiums for everyone over 50. Millions of seniors could lose home care and nursing home coverage. Hospital leaders say staffing and services will be cut.
“Furthermore, this plan is a direct assault on New York values – defunding Planned Parenthood, restricting access to abortion and reproductive health services, and eliminating $400 million in means tested credits that lowered insurance costs for low-income New Yorkers, while slashing taxes on the wealthy.
“In the end, people who will still have insurance will fall into two groups under this plan: older Americans andlower-income people who will pay more for coverage or lose it altogether, and higher-income people who will pay less.
“As bad as this bill is, it may get worse. Far-right opponents of the bill in Congress are demanding changes. As disturbing and devastating as the proposed cuts would be, the final result could be downright bone chilling.
“Affordable healthcare is not a partisan issue. New York’s entire delegation – democrats and republicans – need to stand up and they need to fight, stand against this regressive plan, and protect the people they are sworn to represent. There is no going back.”
Over 1 million New Yorkers would face a significant loss in health care coverage under the plan.
Over $4.5 billion in costs would be shifted to state, counties, and safety net hospitals over the next four years increasing the tax burden on residents and putting countless healthcare providers in jeopardy.
At least $2.4 billion of these costs will be shifted annually beginning in 2020. This burden could grow even larger when the impact of Medicaid block grants is taken into account.
$400 million in tax credits used by New Yorkers to purchase health insurance on the New York State of Health insurance exchange would be lost and replaced in some cases with alternative subsidies which are not related ability to pay.
Wide range of benefits provided for under the Affordable Care Act are removed and savings are shifted to wealthy individuals and corporations.
The Republican controlled Congress is pushing full-steam ahead to “repeal and replace” Obamacare before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has had a chance to “score” it for the cost and the impacts.
During the Presidents Week recess when Congressmembers are supposed to meet with constituents, I attended two jam-packed rallies focused on saving Obamacare (this followed the rallies held coast-to-coast in the days before the inauguration). In each of these, desperate people (dismissed by Republicans as “paid professional agitators”) stood up to preserve the Affordable Care Act.
While not perfect (after all, how could it be when Obama had to thread a ridiculously tiny needle to get anything passed the Republican wall of opposition), Obamacare has brought coverage to 20 million previously uninsured people, reducing the percentage of uninsured Americans to a historic low of 8.6%, allowed children up to age 26 stay on their parents’ plan, mandated coverage for preexisting conditions, ended lifetime caps, capped the amount of premium that for-profit insurance pocketed for non-patient purposes at 20% (versus 97% that Medicare spends on patient care ), instituted basic standards of coverage that included, for the first time, wellness visits, coverage for certain regular tests (mammograms, colonoscopy).
The secret sauce? Mandating coverage or else pay a penalty, but if you didn’t earn enough to pay, you would be able to get subsidies from the government Why? Because the whole thing revolved around the idea that young and healthy people would pay into the system, bringing down the insurance premium for everyone. And every policy would cover certain basics, like child birth and prostate cancer, mammogram and colonscopy (ending the higher premiums for a woman).
And it was working: in the first place because if people can go to their doctors earlier, get diagnostic tests and catch illnesses earlier, they are less expensive to treat, let alone reduce the amount of suffering while increasing a person’s productivity during their prime years.
Let’s review: before Obamacare, nearly 50 million people were without health insurance and tens of thousands of families were losing health insurance as they were losing their jobs (and homes) to the Bush/Cheney Great Recession. 20,000 people a year were dying needlessly simply for lack of access to affordable health care.
And, for years, for-profit insurance companies, with a 33% margin, were raising premiums at three to five times the CPI each year; routinely dropping doctors, denying coverage, throwing people off for “preexisting conditions.” Companies were dropping health benefits for employees.
“Preexisting condition? Life is a preexisting condition, resulting from sexual contact and will invariable end in death,” Dr Martha Livingstone, vice chair of Physicians for a National Health Program, told an overflow audience at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Huntington. “We all have a preexisting condition. We all need health care because we are human beings. How we will get it?”
Congressman Tom Suozzi, who stood in front of SRO town hall at the JCC in Plainview, and again at the Huntington health care rally, and back in January, with Kathleen Rice, at a massive health care rally, said about Obamacare, “Mend it. Don’t End it.”
The key problems with Obamacare, people complained, are high deductibles (for the cheapest plans), that premiums rose significantly (after rising at the slowest rate of increase in 50 years and mainly because of the Republican sabotage that prevented the full implementation), and that doctors, and even insurers would change (which happened before, as well).
What Republicans are proposing now, though, doesn’t “fix” any of these problems. In essence, the Republican plan favors the healthy and the wealthy, shifting the burden of payment while providing fewer benefits onto working people, low-income people and the elderly, while – and here is the added bonus – exploding the budget deficit. Millions will lose insurance; costs will skyrocket, and Republicans are ramming it through without “scoring” its impact on the budget or people.
They concocted the bill in secret, are ramming it through without proper analysis, scrutiny or debate, or even “scoring” by the Congressional Budget Office, and here’s the added subterfuge: they are repealing the elements in stages: by 2018 for the first parts (to minimize impact on midterm elections) and by 2020 for the complete repeal (to ease the way for Trump’s reelection).
The Republican plan begins with ending that “freedom killing” mandate, which is the hinge upon which access to affordable health care rests, because by requiring everyone – young, healthy people who might otherwise defray health insurance costs – to purchase, the pool is large enough to keep premiums down for everyone, while covering everything from child birth to mental health to pre-existing conditions.
Instead of a mandate, enforced with a modest tax penalty, to insure that enough healthy, young people are in the pool to lower everyone’s premium while expanding care and access even if there is a pre-existing condition, the Republican plan provides for a 30% “surcharge” if you have let insurance lapse more than 60 days. So if you have lost your job, and therefore your health insurance, and can’t pay, you will only get further and further behind.
The other prime elements:
Instead of subsidies for people who don’t earn enough to purchase health insurance, Republicans want to give tax credits, which only are beneficial if you earn enough to pay. What is more, they want tax credits not to be based on income at all, but on age, so a 60 year old would get $4000 in tax credits while a 30-year old minimum-wage worker would get $2000 –still only a fraction of the cost of a minimally basic health plan – up to $14,000 in credits for a family.
The other big idea to “afford” health care is the Health Savings Account, which Republicans have wanted forever – another scheme to bolster Wall Street donors, and provide yet another device for the wealthiest to shield income from tax. The flaw is that you need to have enough money to stash away in HSA to begin with. But suppose you get a cancer diagnosis or are hit by a car before you have accumulated sufficient funds? Or you contract some illness that blows through your HSA? Tough luck.
The GOP plan would end the Medicaid expansion – when the federal government paid 90% instead of 50% of the state’s Medicaid cost — which will result in 10 million people in 31 states losing health insurance.
Another keystone of the GOP health care con is to give states block grants – a fixed amount that has no correlation to actual need. The interesting thing is that Governors tend not to use the money for its purpose (health care for the poorest residents), but for pet priorities like lowering taxes for businesses.
The Republicans say they want to shift “power” back to the states. But states always had the ability, before, to devise their own health care plan, as long as it met basic standards of the Affordable Care Act. What states want is the ability –and the excuse – not to provide universal coverage.
Republicans will claim that their plan will continue to cover pre-existing conditions. But their idea is to stick people with pre-existing conditions into high-risk pools, which could put the cost out of reach.
Indeed, no one has bothered to mention that Obamacare capped the amount that the for-profit insurance companies could charge for non-patient services – it was at 33% (versus a 3% administrative budget for Medicare) before the ACA, which required 80% of the premium to go to patient services. That is out the window.
An added zinger, just for good, is that the plan ends federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Gotcha!
Trump proposes to cure the cost problem making it possible to buy insurance across state lines, without saying how that would actually reduce the cost of the premium, under the pretext that “competition” will lower the cost. Except that the same few companies dominate the market in most states, and like airlines, can just raise premiums as they like. Also, this would negate New York’s ability to set standards on insurance companies. And wouldn’t it also mean that New Yorkers would pay the higher premium for Southern obesity?
Most of the changes are phased in – they don’t get implemented until after the 2018 midterm elections, and Obamacare is not completely repealed until after the 2020 elections.
But what Republicans claim is the “unsustainability” of Obamacare is the result of Republicans efforts to sabotage it from day 1. And the first thing that Trump did? Ended enforcement of the mandate and issue a proposal to cut next year’s enrollment period in half allow insurance companies to easily raise deductibles, limit patients’ choice of doctors, and restrict others from getting covered mid-year — even if they have a child or lose their employer-based insurance. Insurance companies are pulling out because the Republicans are intentionally making it impossible for them to do business.
By immediately repealing the mandate as well as the taxes that support Obamacare, it is truly unsustainable and more insurance companies that are planning premium rates and participation now, will either pull out or hike up premiums to ridiculous levels because essentially, they are only insuring sick, older people.
The taxes that pay for the Obamacare health care benefits are also being immediately repealed which will explode the budget deficit, which somehow, Republicans only care about when a Democrat is in the Oval office.
And here is the stunner: the Republicans, who have worked this up in secret, without any debate or public commentary (they dismiss the millions who have come out to town halls, rallies and protests as “paid professional agitators” instead of people with real concerns), plan to shove the legislation through without even scoring by the Congressional Budget Office. They can’t say how much health insurance will cost in TrumpWorld, or how many people will wind up losing health insurance or who wind up being woefully uninsured because they can only afford a minimal policy that doesn’t actually cover anything. They can’t say how many more employers (only about half were offering health insurance benefits before ACA) will simply stop providing any health care benefit at all. That’s Freedom! That’s Choice!
“Do we want people to have socialized medicine or individual accountability, personal choice, where businesses decide?” Congressman Chris Collins (R-NY) asked hypothetically.
Obamacare did not just benefit the 30 million people who were able to afford health insurance, 20 million of them for the first time. It benefited every American who also has insurance, and every American who has Medicare, as well. And remember the complaints with Obamacare? That deductibles were too high; premiums went up significantly from the first year (except they had traditionally gone up at 3 to 5 times the CPI, without any limits). That doctors left the plan or insurance companies changed the plan to exited the exchanges? The Republican plan does not improve any of this. Instead, it returns health care to the total control of for-profit companies, who can raise premiums at will, drop doctors at will, set lifetime caps or refuse to cover certain procedures.
Health care should be a right, not a privilege reserved with the means to pay for it. But the Republican mold would create a system of unequal protection throughout the land. If you happen to live in New York State, you are likely to have better access to life saving, life-affirming care for your family than if you live in Texas.
The Republican plan is a prescription for sicker people who don’t get the checkups, early diagnosis and wellness care to prevent more serious (and costly) and deadly maladies. But they don’t care. Indeed, the rightwingers like Freedom Caucus who are howling mad at the American Health Care Act are upset that it is not draconian enough, that it is “Obamacare Light”.
In TrumpWorld, people are back at the mercy of the for-profit health insurance and health care industry, back under the thumb of employers and abusive spouses. Now that’s freedom-killing, as much as it is a death penalty.
It is as Alan Grayson said early in the Obamacare debate: “The Republican health care plan: don’t get sick. The Republicans have a back-up plan in case you do get sick … Die quickly!”
Rightwingers, conservatives don’t hate Obamacare because it smacks of “socialized medicine.” They hate it because they believe when everyone is entitled to health care, there will be a shortage of doctors, of hospital beds. They will have to wait for appointments. They fear “rationing,” not caring that to avoid that feared scenario, it means that 50 million people will be excluded from health care system altogether.
The solution to having truly universal health care is to reform the health care system – more physicians assistants, nurse practitioners, online diagnosis and triage, more early diagnosis and wellness care.
Contrary to the rightwing hysteria (death panels!) Obamacare is not socialized medicine because it bent health care into a pretzel in order to retain for-profit health insurance entities as the gatekeeper between patients and health care. But the epic failure of the Republican plan, which more than restores ultimate control over people’s lives and quality of life to for-profit companies and employers and abusive spouses, will likely result in a true universal, Medicare-for-All, single-payer system.
Trouble is, that won’t happen for decades more, and not until after hundreds of thousands of people have suffered miserably, died needlessly, prematurely, for lack of access to timely, affordable, quality health care.
With the chaos and uncertainty at the federal level, New York Progressives see an opportunity to push for single-payer health care in the state – a plan that has been approved by the Democratic-controlled Assembly, but has been defeated by the Republican-controlled Senate (with the help of the so-called Independent Democratic coalition of state senators who were elected as Democrats but caucus with Republicans).
Irrespective of what Republicans do in Congress, Ron Widelec, a member of the steering committee of Long Island Activists (LongIslandActivists.org) said, “There is a lot we can do in New York – people forget we can act locally, not everything happens in Congress. Single payer is a real possibility in New York.”
Widelec exposed the lies that are used to beat back universal health care, despite the fact that every other industrialized nation has such a system:
That universal health care is too expensive, will add trillions of dollars to the national debt – but that is belied by the fact that the US spends twice as much on health care as any other industrialized nation, health care amounts to 1/6 of the entire economy, and the outcomes are poor, with the US ranked 32nd among nations, contradicting the claim that the US offers “the best health care in the world.”
Another lie is that universal health care will result in rationing, ”as if 20 million people with no insurance isn’t rationing, or people who have insurance but can’t afford deductibles or copays isn’t rationing, or insurance companies denying care isn’t rationing,” he said.
Janet Green, a nurse who lived in Canada for two years and now lives on Long Island, spoke of the difference: “We lived it, loved it – you could choose any doctor you like, be rid of billing, deductibles, copays; to be covered regardless of age, job status, preexisting conditions, personal wealth. No wonder the Canadians love their single payer universal health insurance system with private provision..
“When we moved to Long Island, the unfairness and inefficiency of an increasingly corporatized health care system was increasingly hard to take because I knew another system. I had coverage through husband’s job – but I was angry, not lucky, to be part of such an unfair system.” That included problems with doctors in/out network; merger/replacement of insurance plans, with changing rules, preferred provider lists not once but twice in 4 years. “There is none of that on single payer, no deductibles or copays or networks.
“I saw the misinformation spread by those most affected, the insurance industry –myths about Canadian system.
“North of the border and throughout the rest of the world, it is understood that to be a compassionate, enlightened society, there must be universal health coverage.
Dr. Martha Livingstone, vice chair of Physicians for a National Health Program, also spoke from experience about Canada’s health program, because she lived in Canada while getting one of her degrees.
“There are only two reasons we don’t have national health insurance Medicare for All – it is 1/6 of the economy and very powerful people are arrayed against us who will do everything in their power to persuade us we can’t have it. And our failure of imagination.
Indeed, it may well be that Republicans have overplayed their hand and the pendulum will swing back much more forcefully. If they succeed in repealing Obamacare and replacing it with Trumpcare, it can cost Republicans to lose Congress in 2018 and the White House in 2020, just as Obamacare cost Democrats control in 2010. Instead of Obamacare, which was Obama’s attempt to appease conservatives who demand a for-profit health care system, there will be universal health care, single-payer Medicare for All, a socialized health care system.
She told of a Victoria BC woman whose son had to go to five specialists before a rare brain tumor was diagnosed, treated, so he could survive. “In the states, he would have been one of 45,000 Americans dead of treatable medical conditions because he didn’t have access to timely medical care.
“Preexisting condition? Life is a preexisting condition, resulting from sexual contact and will invariable end in death. We all have a preexisting condition. We all need health care because we are human beings. How we will get it?
“We are the 99%. We don’t mind paying taxes when they provide for things we need. Who doesn’t want to pay taxes? it’s the billionaires – they want us to be uneducated, unhoused, unfed and if sick, they like us to die [and not be a burden on society]. It is a life/death fight.
“We have to protect the Affordable Care Act, but frankly my dears, ACA was written by the Heritage Foundation, a right wing think tank. It is a Republican plan first put into place by then Governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. You have piece a that‘s public, that funds the majority, and the piece that’s private.
“What Romneycare did, then ACA, was to build on the wildly expensive private for-profit sector of the system. We want to build in the wildly successful, inexpensively administered Medicare program…
“There are only two things wrong with Medicare: it doesn’t cover everything, doesn’t cover everybody. So improve it, Medicare for all.”
But regardless of what happens at the federal level, the state can create its own single-payer plan.
“Let New York be the first to have single-payer. What it will do for us in New York State is save us $50 billion, and save everybody but the very wealthiest New Yorkers money over what paying now for lousy access to care, where we have narrow networks, where some insurance genius can tell us at any moment, ‘Well, if you looked at p 793.’ The bill gets rid of all that – no copays, deductibles for a human right. We have to reinforce that. We know we won’t get it through the New York Senate this year, but 2018 if we hold their feet to the fire.”
“This event left me hopeful,” Widelec said before sending everyone off to their breakout sessions to come up with local actions. “The election of Trump wasn’t a hopeful time, but I am hopeful. I believe this is not a matter of left versus right, this is a matter of right versus wrong. One good thing about the 1%: we outnumber them 99 to 1.