Senate healtcare bill

If you need more proof that politicians don’t work for the average American, take a look at the Senate Healthcare Bill that benefits medical corporations and the mega-rich at the expense of hardworking Americans.

The Better Care Reconciliation Act provides major tax cuts for the mega-rich and benefit cuts for everyone else. According to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Senate bill would take away health care for an estimated 22 million Americans over the next 10 years. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center (TPC) reported on June 26, 2017 that super wealthy families with an annual income of over $1,000,000 would receive a tax cut of $51,800 on average while families that earn $10,000 to $30,000 per year would receive an average cut of $200. If you’re mega-rich and make around $5,000,000 a year, your tax cut would be near $250,000. The TPC estimates that almost 45% of the tax cuts in the bill would benefit the top 1%.

While the mega-rich get huge tax cuts, low-income families and the elderly must pay more for less coverage. The CBO reported that a 40-year old that earns $26,500 per year would see their premiums almost double from $1,700 under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to $3,000 under the Senate plan. If you are in your sixties but not eligible for Medicare and earn $26,500 annually, your premiums would rise from $1,700 under the ACA to $6,500. The increased premiums would buy less coverage since the Senate bill only requires 58% of health expenses to be covered versus 70% in the ACA. In addition to higher premiums, seniors would have to pay more for out-of-pocket expenses.

That’s not all Congress is up to. They are also making cuts to regular Medicaid which covers 70 million vulnerable Americans including children, pregnant women, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and the poor. Forty-one percent of Medicaid enrollees are children and 64% of nursing home residents depend on Medicaid. That’s right, Congress is cutting health care for children and the elderly, the most vulnerable among us. And don’t forget that millionaires are getting a $51,800 tax cut. Is that more important than sick children and Grandma?

If you have employer provided health insurance and you think you’re safe from the reach of this bill, think again. The Affordable Care Act required insurance companies to cover ten essential health benefits including hospitalization (like surgery and overnight stays), emergency room visits, prescription drugs, maternity care, mental health, and substance abuse (think opioid epidemic). I don’t know about you, but I generally expect my health insurance to cover a stay in the hospital. Isn’t that why we have insurance? But the Senate bill would allow states to seek waivers of these essential health benefits. In other words, lobbyists for the insurance companies would use campaign contributions to pressure state lawmakers into removing essential benefits for consumers. And what do politicians want more than anything? To stay in power. So over time, essential benefits would be peeled away and Americans will have insurance that doesn’t cover anything.

What about annual and lifetime caps? States can waive them. Pre-existing conditions? Still in place but state waivers on essential benefits and caps may weaken this coverage. What about allowing children to say on their parents’ policies until age 26? Kept unchanged. How about the limit on insurance company profits and administrative costs? The Affordable Care Act required that 80% of premiums go to patient care while the Senate bill allows states to set their own cap.

One of the main arguments used by proponents of the Senate bill is they must slow the growth of Medicaid in order to save the program. The US Department of Health & Human Services estimates that Medicaid spending is expected to increase by 6% per year over the next ten years. On June 26th, Senator Pat Toomey (R) of Pennsylvania weighed in on the topic on NBC nightly news with Lester Holt, “We need that (slower growth) to make the program viable and deal with massive deficits and the mounting debt that we have.”

If Washington politicians were serious about dealing with “massive” deficits they wouldn’t be giving the super wealthy a “massive” tax cut that totals $700 billion over the next decade!  The real issue with health care are the costs of care and there is nothing in the Senate bill that addresses these costs.

A healthcare bill should be about “health” and “care” and there is little of that in the Senate bill. Washington politicians are more concerned with keeping a political promise than about providing care for the 22 million Americans that would lose health insurance under this plan. Keep in mind this isn’t just a number. These are 22 million mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers, and sisters. Let’s put that in perspective. Twenty-two million people is the equivalent of every man, woman, and child in 16 states!* That’s right. Sixteen states! The majority are hardworking Americans trying to make ends meet and live the American dream.

The Senate bill is so bad for the American people that all major doctor and hospital groups are against it including the American Medical Association (AMA), American Hospital Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics to name a few. The AMA’s CEO James Madara wrote that the legislation violates the medical standard of “first, do no harm”. Nancy Brown, American Heart Association CEO said, “The Senate draft health care bill is literally heartless.” In addition, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) strongly opposes the bill as well as the US Conference for Catholic Bishops.

The Better Care Reconciliation Act is a mean bill that benefits the 1% at the expense of the poor, disabled, and older Americans. But Washington politicians think they can get away with it. They are well aware that higher income Americans vote in large numbers (80% earning more than $150,000 in 2012) while lower income Americans don’t turn out to the polls (47% earning less than $10,000). Politicians also know that the mega-rich make fat campaign contributions while the working class need every penny to make ends meet. Voter apathy has emboldened our Members of Congress to ignore us. It’s time to change that.

Now more than ever, we need to remind Congress who they work for. They’ve forgotten that they represent ALL Americans and not just the well-to-do, special interests, and corporations. The good news is we have the power to make them listen. If we work together regardless of our political party we can make our Members of Congress do what’s good for the average American. Let’s be so loud they can’t ignore us any longer. Use your voice and your vote to make them listen.

Use our Congress Lookup and call your Senator today. Tell them to vote NO on this mean bill. If they don’t listen, vote them out. Be out loud!

* Based on 2010 Census figures:  Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

June 29th, 2017

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