REPUBLICAN HEALTHCARE PLAN WOULD LOWER DEFICIT BUT AT HIGH COST: 23 MILLION LOSING HEALTHCARE, AND SOME SENIORS WOULD PAY 850% MORE FOR PREMIUMS

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By Miriam Raftery

May 25, 2017 (Washington D.C.) – House Republicans passed repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and  passage of their own American Health Care Act (Trumpcare) without waiting for a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Now the CBO’s report is published—and shows mostly negative consequences of the Republican plan now before the Senate. 

It would raise premiums as much as 850% for many older, sicker Americans,  MSN reports. For example, a 64-year-old earning $24,000 a year would pay 60% of their income for health insurance premiums if he or she lives in a state that allows waivers to let insurers charge more for those with preexisting condtiions, the report estimates.   Even in states that don’t grant waivers, that 64-year-old would still have to pay 50% -- half—of their income for health care premiums.  The bill also hurts even wealthier older people, who would also pay more than under Obamacare, according to the CBO report.

The GOP bill also would result in 23 million Americans losing healthcare coverage completely, the CBO study found, CBS news reports.  That’s slightly down from the 24 million in the original version of the bill, but still extremely high.  The losses include some due to changes in the Medicare program in the bill that would make fewer people eligible for Medicare, the CBO reports

“The CBO report confirms the fears I  have been hearing from my constituents,” Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) states in a press release sent to media yesterday.  “TrumpCare will still leave millions uninsured, increase premiums, and discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.”

But House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) seemed unconfirmed with those problems. “This CBO report again confirms that the American Health Care Act achieves our mission: lowering premiums and lowering the deficit.”

In actuality, both are correct to some degree.  Young, healthy Americans would pay slightly less under the Republican plan,  but older and poorer Americans would pay more and some would not be able to afford health insurance at all, the CBO found.

But the report did have some positive news for Republicans, finding that the Republican healthcare plan would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion over 10 years, though that’s less than the $150 billion in a previous version of the bill. 

The CBO report estimates that overall, premiums  would increase 20% in 2018 and another 5% in 2019. But after 2020, some premiums could go down in states that grant waivers to let insurers charge more for preexisting conditions in order to get some help with high risk pools that estimates have found likely won’t be adequately funded. 

So Ryan’s statement that the deficit wil be lowered is true, and it’s true that some Americans will pay less – mainly the youngest and healthiest people.  The savings on the deficit and costs to young and healthy consumers, however, will be paid for  on the backs of older, poorer and sicker Americans Americans by forcing them to pay substantially more – if they can afford health insurance at all.

The cold, hard, reality is that without health insurance, many more Americans will die and others will delay treatment of serious conditions.

Neither Obamacare nor Trumpcare is a panacea.  The former got 40 million Americans covered who had no insurance before,  provided subsidies to help many get affordable coverage, but did cost more for some middle class and older Americans. Instead of fixing those or other problems, however, the Republican plan largely focuses on saving money for the government and the youngest, healthiest Americans at the expense of others.

The measure passed the House by a razor-thin margin, with local Republican Congressmen Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa casting the deciding votes.

Anger and fear over uncertainties in their healthcare futures have fueled  large turnouts  and hostile crowds at Congressional members’ town hall meetings across the nation and at times, testy exchanges.

It’s also fueled hostile responses by some members of Congress and candidates when questioned by the press.

A Republican Congressional candidate in Montana body-slammed a reporter last night on the eve of today’s special election to fill a seat vacated by Ryan  Zinke, now Secretary of the Interior, breaking his glasses,  The candidate, Greg Gianforte, has been charged with assault

 Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs had asked  Gianforte his response to the CBO report on the Republican  healthcare plan.  The incident was caught on tape and published by the Guardian, with a Fox news crew as witnesses to the assault.  According to Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna, Gianforte “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.”  He then began “punching the reporter” and yelling.  On audiotape, Gianforte can be heard shouting"Get the hell out of here."

That led Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA)  to tweet, “Thank goodness Trumpcare is not yet law. Injuries from Greg Gianforte assaults are still covered. He should also withdraw from the race.”