The “discussion draft” of the Senate GOP health care bill has been released (online in its entirety here) by evil GOP bastard Mitch McConnell, and it is even worse than many anticipated.
Still, four far-right Tea-Publican senators say that it doesn’t go far enough in its cruelty to Americans. “Let the poor die! Rich people want their tax cuts!” Their moral depravity knows no limits.
President Barack Obama offered a succint summation of the bill in a Facebook post:
The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.
Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.
I hope our Senators ask themselves – what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their child’s cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings?
To put the American people through that pain – while giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut in return – that’s tough to fathom. But it’s what’s at stake right now. So it remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.
Ezra Klein writes at Vox.com, The Senate GOP health bill in one sentence: poor people pay more for worse insurance:
There are a lot of moving parts in the health bill Senate Republicans just released, but the bigger picture is straightforward. Health care expert Larry Levitt condensed it to fewer than 140 characters:
That’s it. That’s what this bill does. In fact, it does it over and over again. Policy after policy in the bill is built to achieve the same goal: making poor people pay more for less health insurance.
[F]irst, it resets the benchmark plan to one that only covers 58 percent of expected health costs. Under Obamacare, the sparest plan that insurers can generally offer at all has to cover at least 60 percent of expected health costs — so the plans subsidized by the GOP bill won’t just have higher deductibles and less coverage than the plans at the center of the ACA; they’ll have higher deductibles and less coverage than the plans at the bottom of the ACA.
Second, it increases the percentage of your income you can pay for a benchmark plan before it’s deemed unaffordable and additional subsidies kick in.
If all this sounds a bit in the weeds, here’s the bottom line: Low-income Americans get less money to buy crummier insurance. In the GOP bill, the measure of what is affordable has gone up and the definition of what counts as decent insurance has gone down.
This basic idea is also present in the plan’s changes to Medicaid. The Senate’s plan begins to phase out the Medicaid expansion in 2021, and fully repeals it in 2024. Low-income people who were on Medicaid get moved to the exchanges, where the plans cover less, cost more, and require more out-of-pocket spending.
Once the Medicaid expansion is repealed, Republicans get to work on Medicaid itself, tying the amount it can spend to an inflation index that lags behind how much health care actually costs. The result is Medicaid will be able to cover fewer people and cover less of their health care in the future.
Similarly, right now the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies go to 400 percent of the poverty line. This bill caps them at 350 percent of the poverty line. People above that limit will have to pay more for their insurance, which means they’ll be able to afford less.
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The bill [McConnell] has written leads to more people who aren’t covered. The premiums, deductibles, and copays people actually pay for their care will skyrocket. More people will end up in bad insurance that has deductibles so high that it’s really not worth much to them. In a particularly Orwellian flourish, the name of this bill dedicated to diminishing the quality of the insurance coverage Americans can afford is “The Better Care Act.”
Remember, “in May of 2015, one month before he launched his campaign for president, Trump told the conservative Daily Signal that he would not touch the Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid programs.”
“I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” Trump said. “Every other Republican is going to cut, and even if they wouldn’t, they don’t know what to do because they don’t know where the money is. I do.
This was always a lie told by a carnival barker con man to a gullible and unsophisiticated electorate willing to believe in magical unicorns.
“President-elect Donald Trump said in a [January] interview that he is nearing completion of a plan to replace President Obama’s signature health-care law with the goal of “insurance for everybody,” while also vowing to force drug companies to negotiate directly with the government on prices in Medicare and Medicaid.” Trump vows ‘insurance for everybody’ in Obamacare replacement plan. “In addition to his replacement plan for the ACA, also known as Obamacare, Trump said he will target pharmaceutical companies over drug prices.”
On this point, the carnival barker con man also lied to a gullible and unsophisiticated electorate willing to believe in his lies. Steve Benen explains After tough talk, Trump is poised to deliver for the drug industry:
One of the few key areas on which Donald Trump broke with Republican Party orthodoxy was lowering prices on prescription drugs. In fact, shortly before taking office, he complained bitterly about the pharmaceutical industry’s powerful lobbyists, and said drug companies are “getting away with murder.”
For some on the left, this offered at least some hope that the Trump administration would be progressive on the issue, though those hopes faded soon after the president took office. In late January, Trump reversed course, saying he no longer wanted to use the government’s buying power to lower costs, denouncing such a policy as “price fixing.”
Vox explained at the time that the White House’s approach appeared to amount to little more than “lowering taxes” and “getting rid of regulations.”
That turned out to be exactly right. Five months later, the New York Times reports on a draft of an executive order the president intends to sign on drug prices that “appears to give the pharmaceutical industry much of what it has asked for.”
The draft, which The New York Times obtained on Tuesday, is light on specifics but clear on philosophy: Easing regulatory hurdles for the drug industry is the best way to get prices down.
The proposals identify some issues that have stoked public outrage – such as the high out-of-pocket costs for medicines – but it largely leaves the drug industry unscathed. In fact, the four-page document contains several proposals that have long been championed by the industry, including strengthening drugmakers’ monopoly power overseas and scaling back a federal program that requires pharmaceutical companies to give discounts to hospitals and clinics that serve low-income patients.
This is entirely in line with a Politico report from last week, which said Trump’s approach to drug prices would be “industry friendly,” and the White House does not intend to push the idea of using federal leverage to negotiate lower prices – which is what the president vowed to do before he was elected.
Before you ask me why I’d be surprised by any of this, I’m not. But sometimes, developments can be predictable and disheartening at the same time.
Indeed, the salient question is no longer whether Trump is ignoring his health care promises, but rather, just how many promises he’s choosing to break. He promised to create a system that covers “everybody”; he swore he wouldn’t cut Medicaid; he vowed to lower deductibles; he “guaranteed” protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions; he said he’d lower the cost of prescription drugs; and on and on.
The president played those who trusted his promises for fools.
When are Trump voters going to wake up and realize that they have been had by a grifter and con man? Trump is picking their pockets to line his own, and those of his rich friends. How much of America must be destroyed because of these damn fool Trump voters’ blind obedience to the personality cult of the demagogue Donald J. Trump? Admit your mistake and repent.
For more “in the weeds” analysis of the Senate
health care transfer of wealth to rich people bill, see Dylan Matthews These are all the people the Senate health care bill will hurt; Sarah Kliff, The Better Care Reconciliation Act: the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, explained; and Jared Bernstein, The Senate health-care bill is even worse than the House’s version.
The immediate editorial summations are equally brutal. The New York Times editorializes, The Senate’s Unaffordable Care Act. The Washington Post editorializes, Senate Republicans’ Obamacare replacement is bad for America’s health.
Anyone who votes for this abomination of a bill should be considered as having committed a crime: They are consigning millions of Americans to economic ruin and even death by stealing their health care to give tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, who already own everything. For that they will have to answer to the voters. For the amorality of it all, they will have to answer to God.
Call your senators and demand that they do the right thing, the moral thing, the Christian thing if you will, and to vote against this abomination of a bill.