Healthcare or Wealthcare?

A startling new report from the Congressional Budget Office is projecting 24 million people will lose health insurance coverage by 2026 under the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Fourteen million people would lose health insurance in the next year alone. While the White House rejected the CBO findings, Politico is reporting the White House’s own analysis predicts 26 million people will lose coverage under the bill over the next decade. According to the CBO, the bill would reduce the deficit by $337 billion, but one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Republican bill will be millionaires. A new study by the Tax Policy Center shows people in the top 0.1 percent would get a tax cut of about $207,000 under the plan. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused Republicans of attempting to push through the biggest transfer of wealth in the nation’s history.

Elisabeth Benjamin talking:

it’s simply devastating for low-income people and for working people, that what they’re going to do is rob $880 billion from the Medicaid program. They’re going to rob $673 million in tax care—tax credits and subsidies from middle- and working-income people, and pay for tax cuts to the very wealthy in the order of around $600 billion. So, it’s just—these are extraordinary numbers. I don’t think people understand that 41 percent of the people on Medicaid are children. The remainder are elderly, people with disabilities and very low-income wage earners.

I was helping a woman recently who used to work in a very high-end department store. And now she got a bad knee from standing up so much in her department store work and then now works in a coffee shop, and she makes around $16,000 a year. She’s on Medicaid. Medicaid has saved her life. She’s been able to get the treatment for her knee, and she’s been able to keep working. She’s in her fifties. If she were to—she is going from having free healthcare on Medicaid, that’s helping low-wage workers, to a $16,000 health insurance plan. It’s insane. And you can’t afford, basically, to pay what you earn.

However, wealthy people will be getting an incredible tax cut. So, the Peterson Institute for International Economics just released a statement saying people who make $1 million will be getting a $12,900 tax cut, while the people who are earning $26,000, who are older, will be getting a $12,000 insurance rate hike. This is not fair. It’s not right. And it’s unethical.

what they are doing is robbing money from the Medicaid program, robbing money from the states. They’re incentivizing states to cut people off of Medicaid. Instead of being looked at the eligibility once a year, they’re changing it to every six months. Instead of letting people have retroactive Medicaid if they get into an accident and go into a coma, that goes backwards for a month while you were in a coma, they’re getting rid of that. They’re basically incentivizing the states to cut off Medicaid for low-income and working people. And we will have no more Medicaid program for them. So the fact that Dr. Tom Price doesn’t understand how the numbers were derived by the Congressional Budget Office—by the way, which were rosier than the White House’s own numbers. He’s in the White House. Can’t he read the reports? I find that just a shocking display of ignorance.

unless they’re just simply pretending, I mean, to obscure facts, which seems to be the plan here. But the bottom line is, is real people will get hurt, like my waitress, like children, like seniors, people in nursing homes. It’s really an unconscionable bill.

A 20-year-old—so, now we’re moving from Medicaid for a second to what’s happening in the marketplaces. So we’re talking about people with a little more income, say around $16,000 a year and above. What will happen to a 20-year-old who is earning around $18,000 is they will get a $2,000 tax credit. Now, they’re able to buy a plan that costs $150, so they’re going to be a net winner. So that will incentivize—and this is what they’re trying to do, is incentivize more young people to get into the health insurance market. Not a bad idea on its face to incentivize young people to get into the marketplace. But their means are pernicious and evil.

The 60-year-old will have to pay, right now, who’s making the same amount of money, around $20,000—will be asked to pay five times more, because they’re going to allow age rating, which means they’re going to say, if you’re older, you have to pay five times more than a younger person. They’re not going to base it on income anymore. Before it was like you pay as much as you can, up to set amounts, up to 400 percent of poverty. Now they’re saying, “Forget about your income and how much you can afford. Everybody has to pay the same amount. And, P.S., if you’re older, you have to pay five times more.”

it’s not about choice, because they’re basically going to guarantee that health insurance premiums will be unaffordable for older people. You know, when people were asked what they didn’t like about the of Affordable Care Act, it was they had copays and deductibles. This bill is a guarantee that—it’s a race to the bottom. Deductibles will be even higher. Copays will be larger. And they’re going to allow it. The Affordable Care Act set standards for what health—what good health insurance would be. Now, you could buy lower-quality insurance; you could buy higher-quality insurance. You had choice, but—and you, arguably, you know, had lots of subsidies for people who really needed it. What’s happening here is they’re giving a transfer of wealth to very well-income—very well-off people who don’t need it, and they’re basically robbing it from low-income people, people on Medicaid, seniors, people with disabilities and the working poor and middle-income people. And it’s just not right, and we have to say no.

I think we are at a point as a country where we have to decide who we really are. And if we’re really about enabling the super-rich to be richer at the expense of vulnerable populations, like children, old people, people with disabilities and the working poor—who, by the way, aren’t getting things necessarily for free. They’re having to pay what they can. It’s just—that’s the Affordable Care Act. That is a fair and just system of healthcare. It’s not perfect. We can make it better. But this is making it—it’s throwing it away and offering and substituting it with something much worse that’s going to really hurt real people.

Elisabeth Benjamin
vice president of Health Initiatives at the Community Service Society of New York and co-founder of the Health Care for All New York campaign.

— source


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