House republicans have passed a bill to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare or the ACA) with the American Health Care Act. They have been fighting against reason and human rights, and now they have won a victory in Congress. Make no mistake, republican actions will cause citizens to lose their health care. Because of their actions, more people will suffer and many will die without access to live-saving health care. In the absence of lies and misinformation, House republicans cannot justify the passage of this bill. The repeal and replace bill is based on two myths: 1) that the ACA is a failure and 2) that the AHCA will be better.
Let’s look at the first myth: House republicans have falsely claimed that the Affordable Care Act is a failure. The uninsured rate of US citizens under age 65 has shrunk from over 18 percent in 2010 to 11.3 percent in the first quarter of 2017--Though the lowest rate was 10.4 percent in 2016. (CDC/National Center for Health Statistics/US Dept. of Human Services). Consumer Reports published an article that showed that bankruptcies are down by 50%: 1.5 million in 2010 to 770 thousand in 2016. An LA Times article shows improvement on seven separate measures Also, if the ACA is so bad, why did the AHCA include a provision stating that Congress members will keep their current plans under the ACA?
What’s the second myth? Despite what republican advocates say, the American Health Care Act will undermine universal access to health care. In March 2017, the CBO projected that 24 million will lose their coverage under repeal and replace scheme. Though republicans claim that the CBO data is irrelevant since it failed to project uninsured rates in 2010, CBO is still a reliable source for financial predictions. According to Matthew Fiedler, a fellow with the Center for Health Policy in Brookings' Economic Studies Program, and other experts the CBO’s 2010 projections of uninsured were reasonable and accurate, even if off by 8 million. The CBO could not have predicted that the Supreme Court would allow states to stop Medicare expansion and thereby hinder coverage.
Under TrumpCare, states could give insurance companies freedom to offer plans that don’t cover maternity care, mental health/substance abuse services, hospital care, prescription drug coverage and more. States could also allow insurance companies to charge people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums or even deny them coverage. The HIGH RISK POOLS proposed (for those pushed out of regular insurance) will have high surcharges. For example, Adult autism patients could pay 135% more and a metastatic cancer patient 3,500% more (Center for American Progress). GOP allocation of $8 billion for states’ high risk pools is insufficient, experts say $15-20 billion would be needed to operate these pools. Vulnerable populations such as the 13.5 percent of Americans (US Census Bureau) living in poverty would be at risk of losing Medicaid coverage.
Let’s look back at the two myths that got the AHCA or TrumpCare through the US House. Regardless of faulty but popular arguments from republicans, the Affordable Care act works. Regardless of faulty but popular arguments from republicans, the American Health Care Act will spell disaster for low-income people and those with pre-existing conditions.