On May 5, 2017, House Republicans voted to gut the Affordable Care Act 217-213 with 193 Democrats and 20 Republicans voting against the bill. The vote will go down in history as the day Republicans abandoned their morals and compassion for poor people. As the President and House Republicans celebrated at the White House, Americans across the country were sickened. This bill will forever taint the party and every member of the House who supported it via their vote. Speaker Paul Ryan abandoned all of his moral guidelines to push through legislation that was not properly vetted for the sake of his party, not the people. Moreover, Paul Ryan and House Republicans pushed and voted for a bill they didn’t fully understand or the consequences it would have on those who need insurance the most.
The American Healthcare Care Act (AHCA) had not been scored by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) before the House passed it on Thursday. However, even with this being the case, there’s still a lot to unpack about the current healthcare bill. The key components of the bill can be broken down into three parts; tax credits, Medicaid cuts, and tax cuts.
According to the Kaiser Foundation, the AHCA would modify the Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax credit system from an income-based system to an age-based one. The model would resemble something like this:
Under age 30: $2,000
Between 30 and 39: $2,500
Between 40 and 49: $3,000
Between 50 and 59: $3,500
Over age 60: $4,000
The AHCA also states no households would get more than $14,000 worth in credits and that they taper off for single filers making over $75,000 and joint filers making over $150,000. However, the issue with this age-based system is that the bill allows for insurance companies to charge older people up to five times more than younger ones. In contrast, under the ACA the limit was set at just three times more.
Also, some subsidies and who receives them changes significantly. The CBO said the average subsidy would be about 60 percent of what people would get under the ACA. Under these circumstances, the older and poorer Americans would feel the brunt of this new approach. For example, a 64-year-old making 26,500 a year would be responsible for 14,600 in premiums under the AHCA. Under the ACA, that same person would only pay $1,700. To make matters worse, the bill eliminates the ACA’s cost-sharing to assist in out-of-pocket expenses such as co-pays and deductibles for people making 100-250 percent of the federal poverty level. In other words, those who are older or poorer will be getting even less assistance.
The next significant change under the AHCA concerns the cuts and restructuring of Medicaid. Under the current bill a fixed “per capita cap” or “block grant” would replace the current system. Every state would receive a fixed amount of money each year and would increase yearly as a percentage linked to the inflation rate. Also, the federal funding that covered Medicaid would be eliminated by 2020. The CBO stated this Medicaid rollback would result in 14 million fewer people covered through the program, basically, reverting to how the system worked before the Affordable Care Act; a system for some low-income people, not all.
Nonetheless, the most drastic changes in the AHCA are the elimination of the individual and employer mandates, as well as the net investment income and Medicare Tax, culminating in an 883 billion dollar income tax cut, with 274 billion of it going to the top two percent and 880 billion being stripped from Medicaid. These taxes that were implemented through the ACA were created to help combat the changes the health care bill made to existing law. However, those taxes implemented through the ACA all but disappear. The 3.8% surtax on net investment income, 0.9% Medicare tax on earned income, and excise taxes are all done away with in the AHCA.
Keeping all of this in mind, Republicans once prided themselves on the deliberative process of creating legislation. Paul Ryan expressed this in a 2009 interview, “I don’t think we should pass bills that we haven’t read that we don’t know what they cost.” In this same interview he vehemently stated, “that’s not good democracy” and I agree it’s not. The American Health Care Act will determine whether or not human beings die and Americans deserve a properly vetted bill that addresses their anxieties.
Instead, the people received an outline of a bill that doesn’t highlight the cost of their plan, how it would be implemented, or the fact that it throws millions of people off their insurance. House Republicans do not care enough about the welfare of the people it represents. As Republicans demonstrated their unwillingness to help the people in this country that need it most, those same people should show out in 2018 and make their voices heard. A long time ago the Republican party cared about the welfare of its constituents, but that party no longer exists, and this abomination of a bill confirms that.
Rutgers Student studying Political Science & Government with a minor in Journalism who has an interest in the intersection of journalism and political movements.