The Republican party has been salivating at the opportunity to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and deprive twenty million people of their health insurance. They’ve been promising to replace it with “something better,” but for six years they still haven’t produced anything substantial.
Now that they have control of all three branches of government, they’re aiming to move forward as quickly as possible. POLITICO has obtained a draft of their nefarious replacement plan – and it’s worse than what we feared.
The structure of the plan calls for the destruction of Obamacare’s foundational benefits and offers no replacement other than handouts to the rich, which has been the primary objective of the Republican plan all along.
The plan, titled a “discussion draft”, is 105 pages long and reads like a villain’s how-to-guide to end the lives of the sick and destitute as quickly as possible. Republicans are seeking to repeal all of the taxes related to Obamacare which will, unsurprisingly, leave them unable to fund the current provisions of Obamacare.
They are also planning to remove the individual mandate requiring every citizen to carry health insurance or pay a steep fine. The mandate keeps insurance affordable for all by preventing people from waiting to purchase coverage until they actually get sick. The Republican plan has a small financial penalty designed to stop this behavior, but it is negligible compared to the Obamacare mandate.
Further, the subsidies to help pay for health insurance for those who have low incomes are being scrapped. They are being replaced with age-based subsidies. This means that the rich will get the same subsidy as the poor in the same age bracket, unfairly benefiting the rich who can already afford coverage. Those unfortunate citizens who are young, poor, and sick will suffer.
Republicans seek to pay for their Frankenstein plan by reducing Medicaid payments, which is one of the most successful healthcare programs in U.S. history, and giving the money which would have gone to Medicaid to the states to disperse as they wish.
There is no guarantee the funds granted to states will be used in a manner which is most beneficial to the health of their neediest citizens. Some of the Republican proposals would be implemented immediately, where as others would not be rolled out until 2020 — just in time for the next presidential election. This timing seems foolhardy for Republicans, given the contentious nature of healthcare, and they will likely find a way to drag the process out.
Despite the age-based subsidies that leave the young floundering, one shameless change will allow older healthcare recipients to be financially fleeced. Under Obamacare, health insurers are able to charge older healthcare recipients a rate three times higher than would be charged to a young healthy person. The Republican plan lifts this ceiling to allow insurance companies to charge as much five times what a young person pays. Consider if a young person pays $500, under the current rules an older person will pay a maximum of $1,500. Republicans say the individuals should be paying $2,500.
This is a devastating difference for elderly citizens who live on a fixed income, and that extra $1,000 can be the difference between being able to eat and keep their lights on or being able to afford medication.
Such a scenario is the exact reason why Obamacare was implemented in the first place, but the pleas have fallen upon deaf ears within the Republican leadership.
If Republicans believe they will have an easy time eliminating Obamacare, they are sorely mistaken. The raucous and enraged audiences at various Republican town halls with constituents is proof enough. For instance, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) learned his support of repealing and dismantling Obamacare’s provisions would not go unnoticed, as his constituents erupted in a flurry of anger with the crowd shouting “Do your job!” at him as he attempted to deflect questions about his decision making rather than give a straight answer.
Relive that moment below:
These public eruptions are just the tip of the iceberg and will continue with greater fervor and intensity as Republicans move closer to implementing their apocalyptic plan.
Lou Colagiovanni is an investigative journalist living in Las Vegas who specializes in politics and crime. His work has been highlighted all over the world and he is regularly featured on television and radio.