By Glynn Wilson –
In spite of all the big talk rhetoric from Republicans from the president on down about a plan to repeal and allegedly replace the Affordable Care Act with something that would cover the same number of people for less, an independent, nonpartisan U.S. Congressional Budget Office report released Monday says the Republican plan would results in a loss of health care by at least 14 million Americans now covered by Obamacare.
This amounts to a projected 17 percent decrease in the population being covered through 2026, saving the federal budget $880 billion over the ten years, money that won’t be available anyway if the bill passes since it also gets rid of the surtax on net investment income from high-income taxpayers.
In the breaking news story on the report, the news wire Reuters said the report “dealt a potential setback to President Donald Trump’s first major legislative initiative.”
Last week, Alabama Republican Congressman Bradley Byrne was interviewed on the National Public Radio Show “Here and Now” on why he supports dumping Obamacare and passing the so-called American Health Care Act, after holding a packed town hall meeting in Mobile.
On the radio, Byrne made it sound like people at the meeting who were covered by Obamacare or Medicaid were complaining about not being able to find a local doctor or hospital. But that’s not what came up at the meeting.
Jude Forsyth from Theodore talked about her husband, a military veteran, having a hard time finding a doctor or a hospital willing to accept the health care card offered to veterans, not those with Obamacare or Medicaid.
“We have veterans who are literally dying waiting on the veterans health care system to take care of them,” Byrne said at the meeting. “That is not acceptable.”
In reaction to the radio interview, Forsyth said Byrne “either thinks Tricare is part of Medicaid or he just took my statement and misused it for his interview.”
Commenters on the NPR report online and local Facebook groups complained about the Congressman’s statements.
“As someone who proposed an Anti-ACA bill earlier without a replacement, it is no surprise that Bradley falls in with the Republicants on everything,” said John Topper. “They have been railing against this bill for 7 1/2 years, with numerous attempts to destroy it, and it still survives. Take the hint. Fix it don’t repeal it. Change it, clean it up, but don’t waste more time in trying to restart something that is already working.”
He also contradicted Republican statements calling Obamacare “government” health care.
“It’s the insurance companies, stupid,” he said.
President Trump and Congressmen such as Matt Gaetz of Florida have talked and talked about replacing Obamacare with another law that provides consumers with more “choices,” something that must be sorely needed since private insurance companies such as Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Alabama hold a virtual monopoly on health insurance in the state now. It is no wonder peoples’ private insurance company premiums have gone up in recent years, but it is not the fault of Obamacare.
The eagerly awaited CBO report forecasts that if the plan being considered in the House were adopted, 24 million more people would be uninsured by 2026, 52 million people in all, while Obamacare enabled about 20 million previously uninsured Americans to obtain medical insurance.
Two House committees have approved the legislation to dismantle Obamacare that was unveiled by Republican leaders a week ago, but it faces opposition from not only Democrats but also medical providers, including many doctors and hospitals, as well as many conservatives, even in Congress.
“The CBO report’s findings could make the Republican plan a harder sell in Congress,” Reuters reports, even though it could reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion in the 2017-2026 period. “Some Republicans worry a misfire on the Republican healthcare legislation could hobble Trump’s presidency and set the stage for losses for the party in the 2018 congressional elections.”
Also contrary to Republican statements about saving people money, the CBO estimated that insurance premiums would rise 15 percent to 20 percent in both 2018 and 2019, because fewer healthy people would sign up since the new law would repeal the tax penalty for not obtaining insurance.
But it said the hikes could be offset after 2020 by a $100 billion fund set up in the bill to help states fund alternatives, and due to some deregulation in the insurance market.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, a key backer of the repeal and replacement plan, claimed the CBO estimates showed it would ultimately lower premiums in the long-term, and noted that Congress and the administration planned to take additional steps to overhaul the healthcare system.
“Our plan is not about forcing people to buy expensive, one-size-fits-all coverage,” Ryan said. “It is about giving people more choices and better access to a plan they want and can afford. When people have more choices, costs go down.”
President Trump attempted to rally support for the Republican bill on Monday before the CBO report came out.
“The House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare will provide you and your fellow citizens with more choices — far more choices — at lower cost,” Trump said at a White House meeting with people opposed to Obamacare.
Some experts are saying even if the bill passes the House, it may not make it through the Senate.
© 2017, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.