AFL-CIO’s Trumka: “We will fully oppose repeal of the ACA”
Medical students in Cleveland protest repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Tony Dejak/AP

WASHINGTON – In sharply worded statements, union leaders have protested the Trump-GOP plan to strip way from Americans health care subsidies they now receive through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

To show his opposition to the so-called “ACA replacement plan” being touted by Republicans, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka cancelled a photo op in which he and Donald Trump were scheduled to stand side by side.

The GOP plan, which House leaders call the American Health Care Act, “redistributes resources from the poor to the rich,” healthcare reporter Margot Sanger-Katz explains in a New York Times article.

For example, the GOP proposal eliminates a tax currently paid by insurance company executives earning more than $500,000 a year. That money helps finance healthcare.

To make up for the shortfall sure to be caused by killing the tax, the GOP proposal would take Medicaid benefits away from millions of low-income people.

House GOP leaders made their plan public this past Monday. It consists of two separate bills which will be discussed at House committee hearings to be held soon.

Among the many burdens it piles on to recipients of healthcare benefits, the GOP proposal would force adult children covered by their parents’ plans to pay five times the going rate for their insurance. Same goes for people with chronic, pre-existing conditions.

Also, under the GOP plan, if you let your coverage lapse and buy new insurance later, insurance companies can slap a 30 percent surcharge on your new policy.

And the GOP proposal would repeal subsidies provided under ACA to help low-income people pay deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for insurance purchased through the public marketplaces.

Furthermore, tax credits for health care would be based exclusively on age, not income. A wealthy older person would receive more tax credits than a younger person with disabilities.

Worse yet, federal funding for Planned Parenthood would be eliminated under the plan.

In a press release National Nurses United (NNU) Co-President Jean Ross said that the plan provides handouts to “some of the wealthiest donors” to the Republican party.

“While there are legitimate criticisms of the ACA, notably the 28 million [people] who remain without health coverage and the law’s failure to rein in escalating out-of-pocket costs for millions more,” Ross said, “the Republican alternative is far worse.

“The Republican plan moves us back, far back, to the worst vestiges of a profit-focused system based on ability to pay and widespread health disparities.”

She reiterated NNU’s stand that Medicare for All – a program of national health insurance – could fix ACA’s problems.

The major effect of the GOP plan will be elimination of health care coverage for “tens of millions of people, without any restraints on healthcare industry pricing practices that add up to massive health insecurity for the American people,” Ross stated.

Echoing Ross, in a written statement released yesterday, AFL-CIO President Trumka said the GOP’s plan “would result in painful taxes on working families, cuts to Medicaid, and tax giveaways for the super-rich. …

“The reality is, this isn’t a healthcare plan at all,” he continued. “It’s a massive transfer of wealth from working people to Wall Street.

“We will fully oppose it.”

Furthermore, President J. David Cox of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) issued a statement released shortly after House leaders rolled out their plan. In it, Cox calls the GOP plan “a cruel retraction of coverage that will end up depriving millions of Americans coverage they have come to rely on.

He agreed with Ross that “ a ‘single payer’ national health insurance, built on the platform of Medicare” would be the best system for the U.S.

“And while ACA doesn’t get all the way there, it’s better than nothing – and it’s certainly better than the proposed legislation that leaves America’s most disenfranchised behind,” Cox said.

“This new plan does not improve the Affordable Care Act,” he continued. “It cuts taxes for the wealthy, and makes healthcare unaffordable – and thus inaccessible – to millions who obtained coverage on the exchanges or through Medicaid expansion.”

Addressing House Speaker Paul Ryan, prime mover of the GOP plan, Cox had one final word: “Mr. Ryan, if you want to replace the Affordable Care Act with something better, replace it with Medicare for all. But please, don’t just cut taxes for the wealthy and call it health care for all.”

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Mary Kay Henry focused on the corporate interests pushing ACA repeal and the GOP plan. “Self-interested politicians at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and their corporate backers are continuing to push an extreme agenda that put profits ahead of the health of working Americans,” she said. SEIU represents hundreds of thousands of health care workers.

Meanwhile, just hours after meeting with Trump at the White House, Trumka slammed the GOP healthcare proposal and refused to have his picture taken with Trump.


Larry Rubin
Larry Rubin

Larry Rubin has been a union organizer, a speechwriter and an editor of union publications. He was a civil rights organizer in the Deep South and is often invited to speak on applying Movement lessons to today's challenges. He has produced several folk music shows.

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.