The Republican Party brought their Health Care Program out of hiding today. Giving even most of their members a first chance to review the bill. Labeled the American Health Care Act, House leaders plan to rush the bill to committee tomorrow with no public hearings and input and without an estimated cost of score by the Congressional Budget Office. We’re being subjugated to a number of statements with Republicans making unverifiable claims. The President is in full support despite the House plan being drastically different from his campaign promises. The Republicans announced you can go online and read the plan at Readthebill.gop. I’ve read and interpreted it so you don’t have to.
- They start out with some misleading statistics about how bad Obamacare is. They say premiums have increased on average of 25% this past year. What they don’t say is that excludes the 15 million who got expanded Medicaid coverage and for the rest, their subsidies rose as well making the impact nowhere near so dire.
- They say 1/3rd of US counties have only one provider. A better measure might have been what percentage of the population has limited choice. They might have also cited insurance companies like Aetna that were making money but withdrew after failing to blackmail the Obama administration for more money.
- They say 34% accept “Obamacare insurance” as opposed to private insurance. I can’t interpret this as in most cases Obamacare is provided by private insurers.
They claim it to be “fiscally responsible legislation to deliver relief from Obamacare’s taxes and mandates.” How fiscally responsible it is remains unclear as there are no cost estimates and it hasn’t been scored by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
One thing that is clear is that they will reduce taxes, particularly on the wealthy which includes all the Republican legislators. The taxes on the those making over $250,000 annually (net) will be gone. Especially benefitting will be major firms paying their CEO’s big bucks that will now be able to write off potentially millions. The absolute winners in the House GOP plan are the rich.
They eliminate the individual mandate penalties on individuals and companies. The young and healthy people whose participation was vital to helping pay for things like staying on one’s parents plan until age 26 or not being denied for preexisting conditions can’t be forced to pay. Their plan keeps those expensive options with no way to pay for them. Doesn’t sound so fiscally responsible after all.
They plan to give each state some money to allocate as they see fit. They ultimately will pay out less than Medicaid would have paid individuals so basically each State will have to do more with less. There will be age-based tax credits ranging from $2,000 to 14,000 for individuals to figure out how to manage their healthcare expenditures. How could that go wrong? Please note that isn’t enough money to cover many conditions and if you contract them. You’re pretty much out of luck. We then get a set of “Frequently Asked Questions” in which the answers basically rely on the hope that the end product will be a panacea. Write that section of as wishful thinking.
Now we’ve gotten past all the verbiage and get into the 123 pages of the bill.
The first thing they describe is “Prohibited Entities” or basically what they won’t cover. Topping the list although not described by name is Planned Parenthood. They also put an overall cap on Medicaid saying this much and no more.
Then they get to the states that previously expanded Medicaid coverage which generated most of the additional millions receiving healthcare. They plan to take away what was granted, not until 2020 though, long after the next mid-term elections. One interesting note, if you win the lottery. The state can “intercept” winnings and deduct any healthcare payments you may have received.
There are several pages about what States have to do to comply with the program. I also see States cannot be compelled to pay for individuals not eligible for the program. Hmmm. Btw, if you’re dirt poor with little income but you do have home equity. Gotta sell the family home to qualify.
Not totally heartless, they establish a pool for the indigent and those otherwise ineligible. The emergency fund does have a cap so when that runs out, so sad too bad.
Then we get a number of pages describing how they do their calculations which are basically limits on State spending. I’d tip my hat if I were wearing one to the people that write these bills. They tell everyone to “Read the bill!” Then go out of their way to make it illegible.
We get into reporting requirements for States and a description of the quite flexible Federal matching ranging from 10-100%. I was unable to determine what happens if a State budgets for 100% matching and only gets 10%. As ever, the devil is in the details.
After a ton of more definitions. We get to a section called, “Encouraging Continuous Health Care Coverage.” What’s important to know is that if you have health care and can’t afford it for a stretch and let it lapse. It will take a ton of money described as a “penalty” to get it back.
Then we get to the details which clearly repeal any of the taxes individually, associated with Obamacare. Throughout the bill they almost never refer to the existing act as The Affordable Care Act but instead as Obamacare so the public can hate it because… Obama.
This is pretty much what’s in the bill. Some of it seemed like it was cut and pasted from some of their 50+ previous attempts to repeal Obamacare. What you need to know is it hurts the elderly, poor, and sick. The rich start getting their tax cuts right away while they are trying not to kick too many people off the plan until after the next election. This combination must blow a hole in the budget which you can’t criticize because they never provide one. Let the Healthcare Hunger Games begin.
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