It appears that Republican leaders in the House were right on when they said replacing Obamacare with Trumpcare would give Americans real choices. What we now know, however, is that the choices for poorer and older Americans will likely be whether to pay for sky-high health insurance, eat or live in their cars.
Trumpcare as it looks right now is a looming calamity, and Congress need to begin again.
As it stands, the only Americans who will see some kind of gain from the American Health Care Act would be the country’s wealthiest citizens, and even though they get a colossal tax cut from this measure, they, too, will almost certainly have to pay higher prices for health insurance and overall health care.
Not only is the plan onerous as described by doctors, hospitals, other providers, insurance companies and a wide array of lobbyists for older and sicker Americans, but Congress’ own non-partisan analytical office illustrates Trumpcare’s fatal flaws.
The worst part? The president in the White House now is cheering this conundrum of good intentions and poor execution instead of flashing a veto pen to protect you.
We have long been at the front of the parade chiding Congress and the former White House for not amending the Affordable Care Act, which is increasingly un-affordable for too many Americans. While the landmark legislation has increased access, benefited hospitals, providers and insurance companies, and it has certainly increased the number of Americans insured, it has done nothing to contain costs. You don’t have to research any further than your own policy to know that health insurance and health care are radically more expensive than ever.
What’s happened is that rapidly rising premiums are only part of the problem. Current policies themselves hide thousands of dollars in hidden costs to consumers each year with extraordinarily high deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. For many Americans, a simple surgery or round of medical tests is like not having insurance at all.
Trumpcare, however, is a prescription for fiasco.
The measure would grind out those enrolled in Medicaid to the tune of 14 million people next year, according to the bi-partisan Congressional Budget Office. By the time Trump ends his term, the number would swell to 21 million fewer insured. Congressional analysts estimate that not long after that, as many as 50 million Americans or more will be uninsured.
Here’s what almost every expert agrees will happen. As the working poor get dumped off of Medicaid, they’ll swamp hospitals for care they previously received from exponentially cheaper clinics and private doctors. Those hospital bills will go unpaid, and the costs get passed onto paying customers, who pass them on to their insurance companies, who raise their rates to ensure their profits.
That’s exactly what prompted Congress to create Obamacare in the first place.
It gets worse. The mission of Trumpcare appears to be cheaper insurance for younger, healthier Americans, whose premiums, in a way, pay for the much more expensive and frequent care needed by older Americans. But what the CBO and numerous other critics surmise is that when this new measure takes effect, rates will immediately go up. And when they do, the part that ends a penalty for not buying insurance will compel younger, healthier Americans to drop theirs. That means remaining customers will have to pay more, probably much more to keep coverage.
And then it gets much worse. Under Trumpcare, insurance companies will be allowed to charge older Americans five times as much for the same policy offered someone in their 20s. And you know they will. It’s easy to see that millions of older Americans will drop their unaffordable coverage, especially those close to Medicare age, holding off on medical care and then swamping that system when they finally qualify. A change like this would also make it appealing for businesses to rid themselves of older employees and their now substantially higher health insurance benefit costs.
House Republicans made the same mistake that Democrats did in fashioning Obamacare. There is nothing in the legislation to regulate or control prices, or keep providers or insurance companies from gouging consumers. Immediately after Obamacare was passed, but before it was enacted, health care prices and insurance costs soared in most markets.
Republicans blinded by the dream of a truly free-market system envision an industry like mobile phones or airlines, competing for your business and driving down prices. Their plan is fatally flawed by the fact that health insurers have little to no control over the myriad parts and systems of health care. Trumpcare proponents admit up front that health care in this country is now unaffordable for all but the very rich and must be subsidized with tax rebates. But the hidden costs in their plan will sink the budgets of all but the wealthiest Americans and those fortunate poorest of citizens eligible for a shrinking Medicaid program. The CBO and others estimate that even for those who qualify for the new tax refunds, they are substantially smaller than Obamacare subsidies. In the case of older Americans not eligible for Medicare, the credits will fall far short of offsetting what will be a stunning increase in insurance and out-of-pocket medical costs.
The Trump Administration and the pilot of this misguided bill, House Speaker Paul Ryan, have discounted the CBO report and the similar, consistent dire warnings from across the country, but they have offered absolutely no evidence to defend their complaints. And now, a White House that has turned “alternative facts” and deceit into an administration policy is telling the country to ignore common sense and the tidal wave of criticism — and trust them.
Colorado’s two senators balked at this plan early on, and one of them is loyal Trump Republican Sen. Cory Gardner. Across the country, stalwart conservative Republican senators are pointing out this bill’s fatal flaws.
Aurora’s GOP Congressman Mike Coffman gave a tentative thumbs up to Trumpcare early on. We hope now that every credible expert and the CBO has made it clear this is a disaster for almost every one of his constituents, he’ll join the growing chorus of voices demanding a better plan.
And those are just the biggest problems with Trumpcare. Buried deeper are the loss of services for women, poor women through politically targeting planned parenthood, self-destructive clauses for penalties to the uninsured and wallops to states whose residents can’t stomach seeing people die from the lack of even basic medical care.
As it stands, Trumpcare is not only reckless, given that it targets the country’s poorer and older residents, the plan is just cruel and deadly.