TrumpCare: Making America Sicker Again

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Speaker Ryan--bashing ACA is easier than replacing it.

[Commentary]

The proposed TrumpCare is best described as the GOP Health Deprivation Act.
In an interview with the Washington Post on Jan 15, 2017 Donald Trump said "We are going to have insurance for everybody". Talking about his health plan, then President-elect Trump also told Leslie Stahl of CBS 60 Minutes in November 2016 "it will be a great health care for much less money. So it will be better health care, much better, for less money. Not a bad combination."
Lest there be any misunderstanding, his mouthpiece Kellyanne Conway reiterated on MSNBC Morning Joe, “We don’t want anyone who currently has insurance to not have insurance”. If those assurances sounded too good to be true, they were. The snake oil salesman was at it again.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare is the closest thing towards some form of a universal health care this country ever attempted under Obama; a feat that had eluded a dozen presidents before him.
The ACA brought millions previously uninsured into the health care system with added provisions such as covering preexisting conditions and keeping children up to age 26 under their parents’ insurance. It is not to say it did not have its critics, some of them valid. Millions remain yet to be covered. A historic opportunity was missed to go for a single-payer system at the outset rather than offering a cumbersome smörgåsbord of insurance companies whose primary concern is the bottom line and are answerable to their stock holders.
The rising premiums and copayments, reduction in reimbursement to doctors and hospitals and increasing obstacles placed on needed but expensive diagnostic or therapeutic procedures and drugs are meant to maximize profits on the back of consumers, with the middle class and the poor carrying the brunt of the financial burden.
The withdrawal of some of the insurance companies from participation in Medicare and Medicaid was a signal that health insurance was no longer as profitable.
After eight years of dogged obstructionism and malicious attacks on the ACA, the GOP now in control of both the executive and legislative branches was forced to put up or shut up and produce a hastily cooked up plan peddled as American Health Care Act (AHCA) but can best be described as American Health Deprivation Act.
The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates some 24 million Americans will lose health care coverage by 2026 under the AHCA. In addition premiums will go up for poor older Americans. For example a 64 year old with an income of $26,500 who under Obamacare would have paid a premium of $1,700 by 2026 will have to cough up $14,600 under the GOP plan. Cuts in Medicaid and Medicare are also in the mix.
The ethically-challenged Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Tom Price, declared “I firmly believe nobody will be worse off financially in the processes we are going through”.
The head of the CBO, Keith Hall was chosen by Republicans in 2015. At that time Dr. Price gushed: "Keith Hall will bring an impressive level of economic expertise and experience to the CBO”. He now strenuously disagrees with the report that was put out. The good orthopedic surgeon bought and sold more than $300,000 worth of stocks while serving in the House committee dealing with health care legislation. The New York Times in its opinion piece of Feb 7, 2017 rightly dubbed him Mr. Personal Enrichment.
The Republicans are finding out that their constituents don’t like their plan. Trump who is no fool realizes that this falls far short of what he promised his supporters who are likely to be the big losers. It is painful to watch his White House spokesman go into all forms of linguistic contortions and gyrations to attempt to explain the deficiencies in the plan by discrediting the CBO. The White House is now trying to hang the health plan on Ryan's neck somewhat distancing itself from it. Hence the Breitbart News release of an old speech by House Speaker Paul Ryan --the lead player pushing the House version of TrumpCare-- where he said he would not defend Trump “not now, not in the future”.
It must be remembered that Steve Bannon, the white nationalist propagandist was the head of Breitbart News before he assumed his current White House role as chief strategist and adviser to the president. Some Republicans have called the AHCA plan DOA. Stay tuned.
The January 10, 2013 issue of the Atlantic carries a report prepared by a panel of doctors, epidemiologists, demographers and other researchers charged by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine that ranks the U.S. dead last in many of the major health indices among the developed nations.
It is also no accident that it is the only developed nation that does not have universal health insurance. It is not for lack of trying. There have been attempts in starts and spurts at providing health insurance for close to a century under both Democratic and Republican Presidents.
The opposition has always argued that this was a "socialist", paternalistic approach robbing Americans of their rights to choose, a bogus argument; that it should be left to the market that would bring down cost of health insurance. Well the market didn’t. It was the sky rocketing cost of health care over the decades that made the country ready to embrace the idea of national health insurance.
What we got was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with all its flows, but a significant step forward to universal health care.
Health care is a right of every citizen. If that right is indeed recognized, it cannot be left to the vagaries of the market place to be traded as commodity for profit on Wall Street. It should be noted none of the highly industrialized nations with universal health insurance describe themselves as "socialist" or "communist". The communist bogeyman scare tactic born out of cold war histrionics no longer applies.
The Republican plan is nothing short of punishing the poor and the elderly, most vulnerable segments of our society and providing generous tax subsidies to the super rich. The middle class as usual will be left with the short end of the stick.
The American Health Deprivation Act as it should be appropriately named is guaranteed to make America Sicker Again.

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