This week, Republicans in the House of Representatives rolled out what they had been trying to hide from the public for about a week: the “repeal and replace” legislation for healthcare.
Known as The American Health Care Act, the bill covers many things. In time-honored Republican tradition, it wants to eliminate the right to coverage in exchange for tax breaks. And that’s just the beginning.
What’s surprising to me though, is how much resistance to this legislation has materialized from nearly everywhere, including from conservatives. And I’m left wondering: why is the response to this different?
“We want a system that is affordable and accessible.”
Tom Price, Health and Human Services Secretary
I could write 10,000 words on how this bill would make health care unaffordable and inaccessible for millions who depend on Obamacare plans right now. Not to mention the incredible balloon to the federal deficit this bill would undoubtedly unleash.
But that’s not all. The bill also wants to reduce Medicaid expansion, putting a lot of the burden on individual states, which creates an atmosphere where health care could be more affordable in one state and less affordable across the state line; and mostly, on the people most likely to be hurt by that—the poor. These are not the people many decry as just taking a handout while providing nothing in return. Trust me: you don’t want to be a Medicaid recipient. But it’s better than nothing.
The bill also defunds Planned Parenthood. Now, you may not like Planned Parenthood, and I won’t try to change your mind on that, but if you want to put them out of business, you’ll have to find another way for women to get cancer screenings. Or women will die who otherwise don’t have to.
That’s a lot of what I think is missing from this debate. All I’m hearing is political spin about choice and tax incentives. Nobody seems to be talking about the people who will be bankrupted or killed as a result of the havoc that this legislation would enact. I’m not stretching to say that. Even Republican lawmakers admit that it will cost more.
“So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions themselves.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah
Well, representative Chaffetz, I do not have an iPhone. I do know many people who have iPhones because it’s the only mobile platform that will allow them to see real time blood glucose data on their children living with diabetes. You know, the disease they did not “make a choice” to get. Many of these parents are Republican, many are not. Their children still have diabetes.
He’s tried to walk that statement back after some initial uproar over its insensitivity, but even the walkback didn’t sound like much of a mea culpa. Overall, it still sounds like he’s repeating the stupid sound bites he’s been fed by his friends over drinks at the country club.
“If we did nothing, the law would collapse and leave everybody without affordable healthcare. We are doing an act of mercy by repealing this law and replacing it with patient-centered healthcare reforms.”
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, Speaker of the House of Representatives
Failing after seven years. Seven. Not six months. Not a year or two. Seven. Years.
I know he and his Republican colleagues in congress have been trying to kill this law for seven years, and with all the power in the U.S. government at their disposal, they still can’t get it done. Why?
People and patients, conservative and liberal, can see right through the arguments. Not because of their political leanings. What’s missing here is the acknowledgement that both Republicans and Democrats have children, spouses, and parents who need and deserve care. They all have the same needs, and the number one need of all is to keep their loved ones alive. The number two priority is to keep them as healthy as possible without going broke.
People don’t need detailed actuarial analysis. They don’t need political spin. They need to answer three questions: Will I keep my coverage? Will it at least cover the same things that are covered today? Will it cost more?
So far, the answers to those three questions is Maybe, No, and Yes.
People understand that Obamacare isn’t the best thing ever. Many would like to chuck Obamacare into the river and start over with something new. Many are eager for that. But… they’re going to take care of themselves and their loved ones first. The reality is, if you can’t at least give people the same access to care without it costing thousands of dollars more, they’d rather have the devil they do know as opposed to the devil they don’t.
Bottom line: the proposed legislation needs to be at least as good as the legislation it wants to eliminate. Otherwise, if you’re one of the 20 million with coverage through Obamacare, or one of the tens of millions with a loved one being helped through Obamacare, why would you want a change? Don’t forget, there are Republican as well as Democrat voters in this group. By and large, the message I’m hearing from both sides is:
It’s not Repeal and Replace. It’s Repeal and Deny.
It’s not Repeal and Replace. It’s Repeal and Bankrupt.
It’s not Repeal and Replace. It’s Repeal and Kill.
No one ever died from Obamacare. As the debate on health care rages, let’s keep the focus right where it belongs. On American Lives.