The GOP’s American Health Care Act, a bill that has been advertised as a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, has finally been published — and by the looks of it, their so-called health care overhaul will leave countless Americans, especially those with low incomes, at great risk. If put in place, the Republican healthcare plan “would result in 14 million fewer people being covered by Medicaid” by 2018. By 2026, 24 million more Americans would be uninsured under this plan than under the ACA.
What the House GOP has called “fiscally responsible legislation” is being denounced by a long list of prestigious medical institutions, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the American Diabetes Association, the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association.
The American Medical Association released a letter stating “we cannot support the AHCA as drafted because of the expected decline in health insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations.” While the association agrees that the ACA has problems that require attention, it has refused to support a new plan that would be even worse.
The GOP’s proposed health care plan includes a provision that bases the refundable tax credit a person receives not just on their income, but also their age. This will directly impact low-income households, as older recipients tend to have smaller incomes.
In contrast, the nation’s wealthiest citizens will actually benefit more from the system than they already do. According to a report by Maryalice Parks of ABC News, “high-income earners would likely benefit most from this plan.” The reason? Should this health care plan pass, tax cuts for the wealthy would be part of the package.
Another horrifying reversal found in the Republican health care plan is the end to prohibitions that keep insurance companies from charging older people more than young people, which would cause premiums to rise for the nation’s elderly population. Out-of-pocket costs will increase, as insurance companies would no longer face the same restrictions. The Congressional Budget Office reports that “seven million fewer people would be insured through their employers…because some would choose not to obtain coverage and some employers would decline to offer it.”
However, activists and organizers across the United States aren’t taking any of this sitting down. Instead, they’re getting active and mobilizing local communities in favor of a health care policy that would benefit everyone. One of the many organizations leading the charge is Healthcare Now, which has been working since 2004 to promote the creation of a national single-payer health care plan.
In their words, “access to health care is basic to human dignity.” The reason activists and organizations are pushing for single-payer healthcare instead of calling for keeping the ACA is because the act was never the answer to a systemic issue with health care. Insurance companies raked in millions under the Obama administration and the restrictions against these insurance giants were not nearly enough. Under Obama, health care remained an entirely for-profit industry.
If there’s going to be any chance of fighting back against what is undoubtedly a nightmarish health care bill — one that will deeply impact those who are most vulnerable — then there must be collective action directed toward creating a health care system that doesn’t put profits over people. The ACA is far from ideal, but the proposed GOP plan would take a system that is already cracking and shatter it entirely.