‘Live sicker and die younger’

GOP health care bill is a badly conceived rush job

OP Nolan column

by Congressman Rick Nolan

“We know that people who don’t have health insurance live sicker and die younger,” American Medical Association President Dr. Andrew Gurman pointed out last week. And according to the Brookings Institution, some 15 million Americans would lose their health insurance under the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA or Obamacare).
That’s the stark and sobering assessment of the GOP’s rush job of a bill, a measure that would prove terribly costly to small rural hospitals, make health care more expensive and far less accessible to people who need it most, and hand wealthy Americans a big tax break. Moreover, by attempting to ram their legislation through Congress with minimal opportunity for open bipartisan debate and amendments, and no actual hearings or opportunity for public participation in the process, Republicans are violating every fundamental protocol of good business and common sense.
In fact, their bill has had only two markup meetings in the dead of night. And as of Monday morning, we had yet to see any credible analysis of its implications for the budget and the national deficit. By contrast, the Affordable Care Act went through 100 hours of debate during 79 separate hearings over two years. It was fully vetted by the Congressional Budget Office and the public had ample opportunity for review.
No wonder the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, Planned Parenthood and numerous other health care advocacy organizations have weighed in against it. The measure would decimate federal help to rural hospitals and place an ‘age tax’ on seniors, forcing them to pay up to five times more for health insurance. Drastic cuts in Medicare and well as in Medicaid payments to states would severely limit care for millions of seniors and low-income families and children with disabilities. Mental health and chemical treatment services would undergo devastating cuts. People with pre-existing conditions could pay substantially more for coverage. And Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive rights are squarely targeted – just to name a few of the measure’s most damaging effects.
Make no mistake — there are many who cannot afford their premiums and deductibles under the ACA, and that needs to be fixed. But repealing the Affordable Care Act that has already expanded affordable health insurance coverage for 20 million Americans and benefitted millions more — and replacing it with this hastily and poorly conceived Republican plan — is not the answer.
To be clear, President Trump and Republicans in Congress are in charge of the government and the ball is in their court. We need to get health care reform right for the American people, and I will continue to implore Republican leaders to step back and give the public and all their elected representatives full and adequate time to weigh in.

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