The Congressional Budget Office’s diagnosis of the new version of the American Health Care Act shows the legislation is every bit as bad as the original blueprint. In some ways it is worse, remodeled as it was to satisfy the most conservative House Republicans.
It should be unthinkable that anything resembling this bill can pass in the Senate and become law. The CBO report verified that 14 million people would lose Medicaid coverage nationally in the next decade because of an $834 billion cut. The harm to Medicaid, which spends 70 percent of its money on nursing home care for the elderly and care for developmentally disabled people, hasn’t changed much from March’s legislation. Millions more Americans would still lose coverage as the bill phases in reductions in subsidies for low-income customers who buy policies.
Older, sicker Americans would still be devastated by increased premiums as the new law would allow insurance companies to charge them far more. The most optimistic projection in the report, that overall rates would come down over a decade, is largely based on the fact that the older, sicker people won’t be able to afford policies, making the customer mix younger and healthier. And a caveat allowing states to seek waivers from the requirement that policies cover essential benefits could drive these vulnerable customers’ costs even higher. That’s because anyone opting for policies covering pricey treatments, rather than bare-bones plans, would be identified as risky, and their plans would be exorbitant. According to the report, the cost of opioid addiction treatment would rise significantly, and fewer who need it would be able to access it.
The purpose of this bill is the same as that of the first draft. The Republicans want to be able to say they repealed Obamacare, created a huge tax cut in this bill for the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers, and created enough extra savings to pay for other tax cuts for the wealthy later. This bill would devastate New York and the nation, hospitals and patients, communities and families.
There are serious problems with our health care system. This plan fails to address most of them and makes the ones it does address worse.