Trump’s ego puts the health care of millions at risk
National Nurses United members and their supporters march in New York City for single-payer health care on January 15, 2017. | Michael Nigro / Sipa via AP Images

WASHINGTON – Without waiting for a review by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to see how it will affect the health care of millions of Americans, the GOP today rushed a bill through the House that, among other things, will allow insurance companies to jack up the cost of treatments for people with pre-existing medical conditions. It barely passed with a tiny margin of just 217 to 213 votes.

And after a very short while, insurers will be able to refuse to cover such people altogether.

A Kaiser analysis found that 27 percent of all Americans under the age of 65 have pre-existing medical conditions.

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies were required to cover pre-existing conditions and to keep the cost of coverage the same for everyone, whether or not they had a medical condition that began before coverage did. The bill passed by the House today would, if approved by the Senate, allow states to repeal these requirements.

Insurance companies in those states would be allowed to charge people with pre-existing illnesses any amount they wished to charge. The bill then establishes a fund of $8 billion to help cover the increased charges for a period of five years.

According to The Washington Post, it remains “unclear whether all states would be able to apply for the newly proposed funding or just states where patients with pre-existing conditions could be charged higher premiums.”

An analysis by the CBO of a previous GOP bill that failed to win enough House support showed that some 24 million more people would have ended up without insurance.

Although the GOP sponsors of the bill that passed today did not wait for a CBO analysis, the American Medical Association, the American Association of Retired Persons and just about every expert in the medical care field have predicted that $8 billion is not nearly enough to cover for five years the increases that insurance companies will charge.

As soon as the $8 billion is used up, insurers will be free to reject anybody that can’t pay them what they will charge.

The GOP calls the bill they passed today a “replacement of the Affordable Care Act.” In truth, it’s a bill to deny health care to anyone but the most wealthy people in the U.S.

What’s worse, it redistributes resources from the poor to the rich. Click here for a full description of the bill passed by the House today.

Donald Trump has made the debate about the Affordable Care Act all about Donald Trump, and healthcare for millions of Americans hangs in the balance.

Friday, Congress passed a five month spending bill that, among other things, forced Trump to back away from his threat to cut off healthcare subsidies to low income people covered by Obamacare.

Representatives passed the measure after catching heck from constituents who blasted them for wanting to kill Obamacare and after looking out their windows and seeing hundreds of thousands of people protesting Trumpist policies.

Trump looked only in the mirror and saw someone forced to compromise, which goes against his perception of himself as a super macho strongman who always gets his way.

He probably thought something like “real men wouldn’t allow themselves to be stopped from stripping away healthcare aide from millions of Americans.”

So over the weekend Trump began to strong arm Republicans to resurrect their plan to kill ObamaCare altogether. It would cut millions of people off Medicaid and hand control over America’s health care system back to the insurance industry.

Republicans incorrectly call their plan a “replacement” for Obamacare.

With one exception, the plan is the same as the one that failed to win enough House support on March 24.

The one exception makes it worse than the first version. It now allows states to opt out of guaranteeing health care coverage for pre-existing conditions, a provision Congress’ ulra-right “Freedom Caucus” insisted was the price to be paid for their support.

Along with trying to bully Republicans into supporting the new version, according to the New York Times Trump is lying about it.

The Times reports Trump said the Republicans’ new health plan would produce ‘much lower premiums,’ but didn’t say how.”

The Times continues, “In its analysis of the last version of the repeal bill, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said that average premiums in 2018 and 2019 ‘would be 15 percent to 20 percent higher under the legislation than under current law.’ By 2026, it said, average premiums would be roughly 10 percent lower than under current law.”

The Times also reports that Trump said “I want it to be good for sick people … It will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare.”

It will not be, which is the only reason why enough Republicans might vote for it.

As of this writing, Trump has twisted the arms of the majority in the House, but House Speaker Paul Ryan seems reluctant to put the measure to a vote because it would fail if just 23 GOP Representatives vote against it.

Currently, 21 have said they will vote “no” and 28 have said they are undecided. If just two of the undecideds go with “no,” the bill is dead.

Representative Billy Long, Republican of Missouri told the The Hill online newsletter Monday: “I have always stated that one of the few good things about Obamacare is that people with pre-existing conditions would be covered.”

“The Republicans’ latest version,” Long said, “strips away any guarantee that pre-existing conditions would be covered and affordable.”

Long evidentally is one of the GOP representatives who looked out his window and saw that the Resistance is growing and is on the march.


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.