I’ve always known that Republicans treat their supporters like gullible, mindless sheep who will believe practically anything they say, but — wow — I thought when they eventually unveiled their “plan to replace Obamacare” they’d at least try to act as if they had even a shred of respect for those foolish enough to trust them.
I was wrong.
What Republicans essentially did was take a flawed health care law in the Affordable Care Act, added a few awful tweaks, and made it more complicated and far more flawed. Oh, and it does practically nothing that will lower the cost of premiums. In fact, this Republican “plan” is likely going to trigger massive increases in premiums for pretty much everyone — though more on that in just a minute.
The Republican “plan” keeps two of the most popular provisions in Obamacare relating to children being able to stay on their parent’s health care until they’re 26, and doesn’t allow for discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. However, it does allow for increased age discrimination. Under Obamacare, insurance companies weren’t allowed to charge older Americans (you know, the people who often need health coverage the most) more than three times what they would a younger customer. In the Republican plan, insurance companies would be allowed to charge older Americans up to five times what they do younger policy holders.
By 2020, it would completely get rid of Medicaid expansion. Meaning that in just a few years, many of the poorest among us, the people who’ve benefitted from Obamacare the most, would no longer qualify for the Medicaid expansion.
But that’s just the beginning of how this law attacks Medicaid and those who need it.
It completely changes Medicaid into a system where there’s literally not going to be enough money to cover the people on it. The way Medicaid operates now, states receive as much money as it takes to provide comprehensive coverage for those on the program. Under the Republican plan, states would only be provided a certain amount of money per person and if the money runs out, well, too bad. This will undoubtedly lead to massive state-level cuts to Medicaid, meaning fewer people qualifying and far less being covered.
Though screwing over Medicaid recipients isn’t the only way the Republican plan hurts the poor and middle class. Under this plan, the subsidies millions of Americans use to afford insurance would be completely changed from being based on income, shifting more toward age. Essentially, the subsidies for most lower and middle class Americans would decrease (instantly making their plans more expensive), while individuals making $75,000 and couples making $150,000 would get the same amount of tax credits as everyone else. Because when I think of people who need “help” paying for insurance, it’s definitely worth taking from the poor and the elderly to give tax breaks to those making between $75,000-150,000 per year.
To put it bluntly, this “plan” is going to decrease subsidies for low-income Americans while adding benefits for some higher-income Americans.
Again, let me remind everyone how much this plan really screws over older Americans. Not only are subsidies going to go down for most Americans in general, but insurance companies will be allowed to charge older Americans more than they currently are allowed. Republicans are basically telling older, lower-income Americans: Not only are we going to decrease the amount of subsidies you qualify for, but we’re going to make it legal for insurance companies to charge you much more than you’re currently paying.
The GOP plan is also getting rid of the new payroll taxes for the wealthiest Americans, health care companies, and tanning salons. So, not only are they stripping down benefits for the poor and middle class, while helping wealthier Americans, they’re taking away a large chunk of funding for their health care law — with seemingly no plan to replace such funding. Well, except by reducing subsidies and taking coverage away from people on Medicaid.
But, hey, wealthier Americans are going to see big tax breaks and qualify for subsidies — maybe they’ll “trickle” some of that down to the sick and dying poor people who got rejected for Medicaid because states lack adequate funding.
It also eliminates federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Because of course it does.
Then there’s the “punishment” for gaps in insurance coverage. If you have a gap in your coverage for whatever reason, when you seek coverage the next time, under this plan, you would pay 30 percent more than you normally would. Now, what demographic of Americans are the most likely to experience a gap in their insurance coverage? Could it possibly be the poor, middle class, and elderly Americans this plan just completely screwed over? Why, yes — yes it would.
Nothing like making health care plans for millions of poor, middle class, and elderly Americans more expensive, then punishing them with higher costs if they happen to have a lapse in coverage but want to obtain health coverage again.
Why did they include this 30 percent “punishment” for a lapse in coverage? Because they’re completely getting rid of the mandate, that’s why.
You see, basically everything else I just wrote about is moot because the elimination of the mandate is the biggest joke of this entire “plan.” Without the mandate, millions of healthier Americans (you know the ones who don’t really use a great deal of medical services) are going to drop coverage, while those in poorer health desperately try to keep theirs. That’s going to cause insurance premiums for everyone who does have insurance to skyrocket to obscene levels.
Imagine for a moment if legally-mandated auto insurance was eliminated all across the country (I know it’s not a federal mandate, but nearly every state has a requirement that drivers maintain at least a basic amount of liability coverage), would premiums go up or down?
Answer: They would go up.
The moment that insurance mandate was removed, instantly tens of thousands/millions (depending on the size of your state) of drivers would drop coverage. They would still be driving, they just wouldn’t have any insurance. Which means if you got into an accident with one of them, your insurance would bear the full brunt of the costs for any repairs or medical coverage you needed due to the accident. Sure, you could sue the non-insured person for compensation, but your insurance company isn’t going to care about that nor waste their time on court proceedings that aren’t likely going to yield any form of payment. What they’re going to do is jack up the rates for everyone who does have insurance to make up for the loss in revenue caused by those who dropped insurance, plus the increased risks every single driver on the road just incurred with a sizable percentage of drivers now being allowed to operate a motor vehicle without any liability coverage.
Well, that’s what’s going to happen to health care premiums.
People without insurance who find themselves in a situation where they desperately need coverage are still going to use emergency rooms for “care” resulting in medical bills they’ll never be able to afford. The hospital, already anticipating this, will then increase their costs to make up for the “loss” they expect from those who they have to treat, but don’t have any insurance. Those costs will then be passed on to health care companies who will have not only just lost millions of paying customers, but most of the people who do kept coverage will be “high-risk” patients who are actually costing the company more money than they’re paying in. However, because this new law keeps the provision preventing them from dropping high-risk patients (you know, like they would have before Obamacare), they must provide coverage. Obviously, health insurance companies aren’t going to be able to operate any type of business, let alone a for-profit one, taking in less money than they’re paying out. That doesn’t remotely make sense. So how, exactly, do insurance companies increase revenues when they can’t “drop expenses” (aka higher-risk people):
- Deny more claims/offer plans that cover less.
- Increase premiums.
So, let me spell out what we’re looking at here:
- Medicaid expansion will be eliminated after 2020 and funding states receive from the federal government will be drastically reduced, resulting in massive cuts to the program that will impact the quality of coverage and how many people the state can cover.
- Subsidies for most poor and middle class Americans are going to shrink, while some higher-income Americans will actually receive tax breaks they didn’t qualify for before.
- The new law allows for even more legalized age discrimination by letting health insurance companies charge older Americans up to five times more than they would younger customers (Obamacare only allows for insurance companies to charge three times as much).
- It eliminates large swaths of the tax revenue being brought in and Republicans have yet to say how much this plan will cost or how it will be paid for. (Aside from, obviously, gutting it for poor, middle class, and elderly Americans.)
- It gets rid of the mandate, but requires health insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, which means we’ll see some the largest premium increases ever.
- Eliminates funding for Planned Parenthood, a health care organization where millions of Americans, mostly lower-income women, go for vital medical treatments.
- Nothing in this law has any mechanism that’s going to make health care cheaper for anyone.
For years Republicans have said they were going to “repeal and replace Obamacare” and give us health care reform that gives Americans “better coverage that’s more affordable.” In fact, here are a few quotes from Donald Trump about health care:
We’re going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.
They can expect to have great health care. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.
I am calling on Congress to REPEAL & REPLACE OBAMACARE with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs & provide better care.
We’re going to come up with great health care at a fraction of the cost, much better and much less expensive.
This Republican proposal does none of that. It’s every bit as complicated, is going to actually decrease the number of Americans who have health insurance, coverage is going to get worse, and costs are going to skyrocket.
Oh, and by the way, this is in no way a “repeal of Obamacare.” It’s a complete butchering of the law but removes the mandate to appease those ignorant enough to think you can remove that requirement without causing health care premiums to drastically increase.
I would say this proposal is a joke, but there’s not a damn thing funny about it. I can see why Republicans kept this “plan” private as long as they did, because it’s an absolute disaster. Republicans don’t understand that you can’t “fix” a for-profit health care industry. For profit-driven companies, revenues always need to be increasing, which means expenses need to be reduced while revenue (premiums) need to be increased. There’s absolutely no way you can require that health care companies provide everyone coverage, but not mandate that people have health insurance. All that’s going to do is lead to massive premium increases for everyone who does decide to purchase health insurance.
As I’ve said for years, every argument I’ve heard against Obamacare, or our health care system in general, is nothing more than an argument as to why we need true universal health care. The one thing this “plan” doesn’t do is remove the driving force behind why health care costs for Americans continue to rise: The for-profit part of it.
My prediction? We’re about to see polls showing approval for Obamacare reach new heights as this Trumpcare plan faces quite a lot of pushback in Congress (even from some Republicans). If it ever does get passed, a lot of conservatives who voted for these crooks who supported this pathetic “plan” are going to realize, really quick, that Obamacare was a hell of a lot better than they thought it was.
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