Popular Economics Weekly
It’s incredible. Why have House Republicans just voted for a health care bill that only does one thing in the words of MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber, co-designer of the Massachusetts single-pay healthcare program and Obamacare?
On Lawrence O’Donnell’s Last Word he states that it gives the wealthiest what could be the single largest tax cut in history—almost $1 billion for those earning $200,000 plus per year—but cuts benefits to everyone else.
And this is when 23 percent of Americans have pre-existing medical conditions. The answer in the words of Paul Krugman has to be pure greed. Tax cuts are more important than protecting Americans from loss of coverage due to pre-existing conditions and soaring premium for everyone but the youngest and healthiest among US.
It was also an attempt to make the President look good, regardless of his broken promises that Obamacare benefits wouldn’t be reduced. Trump doesn’t care who loses, in other words, so long as he doesn’t look like a ‘loser’.
But what does it do for the white blue collar male Trump supporters who have suffered most from their loss of jobs, and whose mortality rate due to drugs and suicides is double that of other developed countries that lived through the same Great Recession?
The CBO graph pictures the suffering of 45-54 year-old white working class males in our post-industrial age. The rising red line is USA males, the falling lines are white males in other developed countries with Sweden having the lowest mortality rate “for all causes”. Even US Hispanics (blue line) had a falling mortality rate.
The House wouldn’t wait for the Congressional Budget Office latest ‘scoring’ of the costs of the bill, which confirms that House Republicans weren’t even concerned about its effects on federal and state budgets, much less on how many would lose their coverage, if taken off Obamacare.
The Congressional Budget Office projections on earlier House attempts to repeal projected that the revised GOP bill would realize $150 billion in reduced federal spending through 2026, which is less than half of the $337 billion in deficit reductions that the CBO had estimated for the bill's first version, said a CNBC summary of the report.
“But the newer version, like the first, is expected to lead to 14 million fewer people having health insurance in 2018, and 24 million fewer insured Americans by 2026 than would be covered if Obamacare remained as law in its current form. And an estimated total of 52 million people nationally would lack health coverage by 2026 if the revised bill becomes law, according to the CBO's projection. However, if Obamacare remained in effect, 28 million Americans would not have insurance by that year, according to the CBO.”
It cuts almost all Obamacare benefits, including to childcare, Medicare and Medicaid; even employers’ health care plans by turning over implementation to individual states. This is basically returning healthcare to the broken system it was before Obamacare that made US the unhealthiest developed country.
There were 20 mostly moderate Republicans that didn’t vote for the bill. The defectors were primarily centrists who had trepidations about voting for the bill after the addition of an amendment to let states apply for waivers from certain Obamacare provisions that prevent insurers from charging sick people higher premiums and mandate which services insurance plans must cover, said the Washington Post.
What are the effects of 24 million losing their health insurance? The New York Times Charles Blow cites a 2009 study conducted by the Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance: “nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance,” and “uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts.”
Republican House members seem to have no idea that President Trump is leading their re-election chances over a cliff—just so he won’t look like the loser he really is.
Harlan Green © 2017
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