Healthcare plan or tax cut?

“… Think ye that building shall endure which shelters the noble and crushes the poor?”

from “A Parable,” by American Poet James Russell Lowell

“Overall, the plan would boost the number of uninsured and shift federal assistance away from some of the most vulnerable people in this nation, while cutting taxes for the richest.” So Dr. Henry Aaron, healthcare analyst at the Brookings Institute, summarizes the consequences of the Republican American Health Care Act. 

A look at the CBO coverage projections of the initial AHCA reveals the Republican legislation has nothing to do with increasing healthcare access for self-employed working-age citizens, poor seniors and children. Instead, it is a Trojan horse hiding a $600 billion tax reduction for billionaires. (Tax Policy Center)

The AHCA repeals ObamaCare taxes on that portion of individual income above $250,000 and on companies manufacturing medical devices. This de-funds the premium tax credits used by working Americans to purchase affordable private health insurance in the ObamaCare insurance marketplace. Higher premiums equal more uninsured families, especially among people without large group insurance whose only choice is to purchase in the individual market.

Equally significant, the House bill radically changes Medicaid to a capped block grant to states. As healthcare prices rise, the block grant purchases less; states must then choose to raise taxes or cut benefits. According to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, Medicaid pays for 75 percent of Georgia’s nursing home patients and the healthcare of 67 percent of our children.

In his New Republic essay of March 14, Brian Beutler uncovers the health reform camouflage hiding the Republican Party’s true goal — permanent tax cuts for the uber-rich: “This strategic imperative (repealing ObamaCare) revealed something important about GOP priorities: that tax cuts outrank health policy in the Republican policy schema. But using Monday’s CBO report, we can sketch these priorities with greater precision, and the picture that emerges is vicious.”

The CBO (headed by a director Paul Ryan selected) projects the following consequences of Republican healthcare legislation.

Some $880 billion will be cut from Medicaid, including payments to hospitals, by 2025. (Tax Policy Center)

Also, $680 billion in immediate cuts to private insurance premium tax credits and deductible subsidies will make insurance unaffordable for families insured with the help of premium tax credits. Less visible is the cruel tax increase on those who lose both the premium tax credit and their health insurance. (Tax Policy Center)

Under the Republican plan, Floyd County families, who qualify for a premium voucher, will see an average insurance premium increase of $1,875. Most of our 4,010 neighbors, who were able to purchase insurance through ObamaCare, will not have the money to maintain coverage. Each year purchasing power of the Republican AHCA premium voucher will decline as health plan premiums rise. Likewise, out-of-pocket payments will exceed the means of most of our neighbors and the number of uninsured local families will grow. (Center for Budget and Policy Priorities)

Next year, 14 million Americans will lose health insurance. By 2025, over fifty-four million working poor, middle class, and indigent people will be uninsured. 

Tom Price, Georgia businessman, former physician, and Secretary of Health and Human Services, wants you to believe that Republicans’ first priority is saving you from the ObamaCare disaster. He assures you more than a trillion dollars cut from our healthcare system will not decrease your family’s access to healthcare or increase your risk of medical bankruptcy. Don’t be fooled.

Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, reported in January on a survey of Trump voters enrolled in ObamaCare through the ACA marketplace or Medicaid. Altman wrote, “They have no strong ideological views about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, or future directions for health policy. What they want are pragmatic solutions to their insurance problems. The very last thing they want is higher out-of-pocket costs.”

Whatever the Republican legislation is called, it has absolutely nothing to do with protecting and improving the health and financial security of American families. It is a Trojan horse concealing a tax giveaway to the uber-rich paid for by taking away healthcare from 24 million American workers, nursing home patients, children, and disabled persons.

As our Republican president would say, “It’s a really, really beautiful thing; you are going to love it.”

Michael Reynolds, a Rome resident retired from Georgia Tech, is a graduate of the School of Theology at Boston University. He writes for the website MOVE GEORGIA FORWARD and may be reached at MoveGeorgiaForward@gmail.com.

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