Conservatives in Congress have made no secret of their intention to overhaul former President Barack Obama’s hallmark Affordable Healthcare Act. A new bill is pending, courtesy of House Republicans, which, if adopted, could take effect as early as 2020. The initiative would replace income-based subsidies with age-based tax credits. Touted as the free-market alternative to a socialist experiment run amok, the Republican healthcare plan could knock the wind out of hardworking Americans, leaving them to suffer outrageous premiums or the pain of not having any coverage at all.
Senior citizens are without a doubt the group most vulnerable to American Healthcare Reform Act of 2017. Older men and women in their 50s and 60s would have to watch as their premiums spiked and critical treatments became unaffordable.
The American Medical Association, which is the largest physicians’ organization in the United States, has been vocal in its opposition to the GOP proposal. By the AMA’s estimate, patients who depend on the Affordable Healthcare Act would suffer as access to insurance becomes scarce and expensive.
As part of a special report, The New York Times interviewed at-risk Americans and calculated how their annual payments would change if leading Republicans are allowed to have their way with the country.
Martha Brawley of North Carolina, who voted for Trump in hopes of change, said she was “increasingly nervous” about the bill now being rushed through the House. The New York Times showed how receiving tax credits would set her back to the tune of $5,188. Brawley, who is 55 years old, is too young to receive Medicare or the highest credit conservatives would offer.
“I’m scared, I’ll tell you that right now, to think about not having insurance at my age,” Brawley said. On Monday, she had a liver biopsy after being diagnosed with an autoimmune liver disease. “If I didn’t have insurance, these doctors wouldn’t see me.”
Even though the Congressional Budget Office hasn’t yet released any estimates of how many Americans would lose coverage under the House plan, Standard & Poor’s Financial Services concluded the Reform Act would leave between two and four million individuals uninsured.
The only beneficiaries from a piggy-bank perspective would be young workers, who could expect cuts up to two-thirds of their current rate. Unfortunately, the shrinking premium would come with shrinking benefits. Insurers would be allowed to set lower rates for healthy young adults, but would also have the power to expand seniors’ premiums to five times what their juvenile counterparts might pay.
The criticism being shoveled onto Republican lawmakers is coming from the left as well as within their own party.
Senator Susan Collins (R) of Maine said in an interview with Katie Couric that the House plan, as it currently stands, would “not be well received in the Senate” and absolutely cannot be passed as-is. “I want us to take more time to be sure we get this right,” she said to the Yahoo News correspondent.
Some Republicans are taking a softer stance, wondering if Trump would be willing to compromise. Representative Thomas Garrett of Virginia gave the example of the President’s threat to pull out of NATO as comparable maneuver.
“Two months later, we saw countries like Germany vow to increase their defense spending to 2 percent of GDP,” Garrett said. “Why’d they do that? Because Donald Trump isn’t going to accept the status quo. They made a counteroffer.
“Right now, there’s an offer, and he’s saying he likes to get people to make counteroffers.”
Without a workable solution on the table, it isn’t unlikely that the House is going to have re-evaluate its entire plan.
Until House Republicans manage to find a way to stamp out Obama’s healthcare legacy once and for all, ordinary Americans of all ages will have the opportunity to reflect on what their well-being is worth to the politicians they put into office.