Richard Boersma: AHCA — know the facts
May 10, 2017
If the Republican effort to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) follows the House's blueprint passed last week, what will our "new" American Health Care Act (AHCA, or Trumpcare) look like?
We'd better know the answers, because we have an aggressive president and a conservative Congress, and it just might happen. Here are the facts (I've checked them).
• About 24 million Americans will become uninsured in the next decade (source: Congressional Budget Office). The Office of Management and Budget estimates 26 million. I care about that. I personally know people who will not be able to afford health care under Trumpcare.
• Pre-existing conditions, which insurers must cover now, under Obamacare, become optional state to state. Tough break, Alabama. Sorry, Kentucky. And if Colorado elects a Republican statehouse, how would it affect you? Ever been depressed? Had a kidney stone? Acne? They're all on the list.
• Insurers will be allowed to charge older enrollees up to five times more for the same insurance as younger ones. That's almost double what is allowed by the ACA (Brookings Institute). That's not a reduction for young people, it targets seniors, the ones no longer working and living on a fixed income.
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• Obamacare is funded by a 3.8 percent tax on unearned income (cap gains), 0.9 percent tax on high incomes ($250,000), fees on insurance and pharmaceutical firms (the ones making money on illnesses) and 2.3 percent tax on medical devices. Trumpcare repeals all four. That saves the wealthy billions (they can’t afford it).
• A hefty chunk of Medicaid costs would be shifted to the states. This is how Trump and Ryan claim the AHCA will cut the deficit. Take $880,000,000,000 from federal Medicaid benefits over the next 10 years, and tell the states to deal with it (CBO again). Every state will have to cut programs to make it work.
• The mandates of Obamacare (requiring individuals to be insured, requiring larger employers to insure workers) are totally wiped out by the AHCA. And anyone who lets his/her insurance lapse gets a 30 percent surcharge to re-up. Nice incentive to get reinsured once you're employed again, right?
That's it. Forget universal health care. And while you're at it, let's cut the EPA, education, Planned Parenthood, housing and urban development, the arts, national parks, more. Because Trump wants a $54 billion boost for the military, our huge, awesome military. It’s gonna be great.
Be aware of what's happening. Know the facts. Avoid fake news. Make our democracy work.
Call Sen. Bennet in Denver at 303-455-7600; in D.C. at 202-224-5852, and Sen. Gardner in Denver 303-391-5777; in D.C. 202-224-5941. Encourage them to bury the AHCA or at least return it to a health plan worthy of America.
Your voice counts. Remember: out of 430 representatives in the House, the AHCA passed by only four votes.