The Republicans have finally succeeded in their first step to repeal the ACA (Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare). This will mean an attack on millions of people’s access to health care. For all its problems, the ACA did provide some improvements to what was in place before. It expanded Medicaid coverage and provided subsidies to the poorest Americans to help cover the costs of insurance. It guaranteed access to and limited the price of premiums charged to those with previous existing medical conditions. The ACA paid for most of these subsidies through a small increase in taxes, mainly paid by the rich.
But there were serious problems with the plan. The ACA was never really about providing affordable, quality health care for all. It was written by the insurance and drug companies to guarantee future profits and increase the number of people purchasing health care.
For Republicans, replacing the ACA was never about providing people with better health care. They campaigned against the ACA from day one to position themselves against the Democrats and as a way to play to racists by attacking Obama. Getting rid of the ACA is also a way to carry out further attacks on the funding of social services. Cuts to social programs means more of our taxes go to the rich for programs like weapons production and subsidies to fossil fuel companies.
For months many Republicans have been trying to build support for removing the ACA by talking about its many problems. Most people are dissatisfied with the fact that their insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs of health care have continued to go up. From drug prices to co-pays to surgeries, we have had to pay more for everything each year. For millions of the poorest Americans, their problem with the ACA is not the existence of subsidies but that it never provided a fully accessible health care system.
Republicans have manipulated people’s anger at increased health care costs only to offer them another system of expensive for-profit health care. The Republicans’ plan, the American Health Care Act, will eliminate protections for those with pre-existing conditions, allowing premiums and co-pays to continue to skyrocket. They want to cut Medicaid by hundreds of billions of dollars. They want to eliminate mandated health coverage for everyone and cut hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies for those who can’t afford the plans – denying millions of more people access to basic health care.
Even among the Republicans there was some opposition to these drastic cuts. In order to get their bill passed through the House, Republican leaders had to promise eight billion dollars to help those who won’t be able to afford the increased premiums. But that amount of money isn’t even close to being enough. In fact, the majority of those who voted for this bill didn’t even know what they were voting for. They were just voting against the Democrats.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was not even allowed to review this latest health care bill before the House of Representatives voted last week. The CBO estimated that the previous version of the bill, which was voted down, would cut more than 24 million people from insurance coverage. And over $880 billion would be cut from Medicaid over the first ten years alone. That bill also allowed for further cuts to Medicaid in the future.
There is nothing about this heath care bill that will benefit working people. This health care bill needs to be seen for exactly what it is: a further attack on workers and the poor and another handout to the rich.
In this country health care serves as wealth care for the rich. It is obscene that in the richest country in the world quality health care is not guaranteed and accessible to everyone. As long as profits come first our health and well-being will always come last.