Thursday, June 22, 2017

Obama's Statement on the Senate Health Care Act

Obama's statement on the GOP Health bill released by the Senate today, which he posted on Facebook, is worth reading:
Our politics are divided. They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen to Americans with whom we disagree, that’s what we need to do today.  . . .  
[W]e fought for (the ACA) because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course. . . .  
Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones – a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams. . . . 
For the first time, more than ninety percent of Americans know the security of health insurance. Health care costs, while still rising, have been rising at the slowest pace in fifty years. Women can’t be charged more for their insurance, young adults can stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26, contraceptive care and preventive care are now free. Paying more, or being denied insurance altogether due to a preexisting condition – we made that a thing of the past.

. . . .  So I still hope that there are enough Republicans in Congress who remember that public service is not about sport or notching a political win, that there’s a reason we all chose to serve in the first place, and that hopefully, it’s to make people’s lives better, not worse.

But right now, after eight years, the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it. That’s not my opinion, but rather the conclusion of all objective analyses, from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that 23 million Americans would lose insurance, to America’s doctors, nurses, and hospitals on the front lines of our health care system.
The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. . . . Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.

Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm. . . .  
I hope our Senators ask themselves – what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their child’s cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings? 
To put the American people through that pain – while giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut in return – that’s tough to fathom. But it’s what’s at stake right now. So it remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.
Elections have consequences, and Republicans campaigned on wrecking Obamacare, and reducing the federal governments role in healthcare. Ominously, the Senate bill would effect long term cuts in Medicaid.  Medicaid provides health care for the nation's neediest.

The chart of who benefits from Medicaid prepared by the New York Times today, is also worth contemplating.


This is the population that will be harmed the most by the proposed cuts to Medicare. We don't have universal health care in this country. The ideology that says we should reduce the health care we provide to poor children, children with disabilities, poor adults, and nursing home residents is an ideology of cruelty. It's shameful.

Update:

And here is Ezra Klein at Vox about the core part of the bill:
[W]hat this bill does, [i]n fact, it does it over and over again; policy after policy in the bill is built to achieve the same goal: making poor people pay more for less health insurance. . . 
Reading the bill, I keep thinking about what Sen. Mitch McConnell said about the Affordable Care Act in January:
----MCCONNELL: "Well, what you need to understand is that there are 25 million Americans who aren’t covered now. If the idea behind Obamacare was to get everyone covered, that’s one of the many failures. In addition to premiums going up, copayments going up, deductibles going up. And many Americans who actually did get insurance when they did not have it before have really bad insurance that they have to pay for, and the deductibles are so high that it’s really not worth much to them. So it is chaotic. The status quo is simply unacceptable."
McConnell was right in every criticism he made of the ACA. Then he turned around and wrote a bill that made every single problem he identified worse. 
The bill he has written leads to more people who aren’t covered. The premiums, deductibles, and copays people actually pay for their care will skyrocket. More people will end up in bad insurance that has deductibles so high that it’s really not worth much to them. In a particularly Orwellian flourish, the name of this bill dedicated to diminishing the quality of the insurance coverage Americans can afford is “The Better Care Act.”
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