Aside from 13 men in a closed room in Washington, D.C., I’ve had as much time as anyone to digest the recently released health care repeal bill, and it is as bad as everyone could have guessed. Millions of Americans are going to soon lose their health care coverage, and those who don’t lose their coverage will be subject to higher and higher premiums due to the loss of subsidies. Those with preexisting conditions may not be able to keep coverage, and it seems as if lifetime coverage caps may be disappearing as well. All of these provisions were at the heart of the Affordable Care Act; the legislation that passed in 2010 and has been in the crosshairs of GOP leaders ever since.
It appears as though virtually every member of the GOP in Congress has claimed to run against “Obamacare” since its passage, vowing to repeal and replace the law and claiming the law that provided access to insurance for millions of people was in a death spiral. In actuality, that death spiral was completely realized by the secrecy of the Senate’s bill. Held secret until after the deadline for insurers to set their rates for 2018, many decided to back out of the healthcare exchanges due to uncertainty surrounding the GOP replacement bill. Insurers could not plan ahead, so they backed out, citing this uncertainty in news accounts. This action resulted in a self-fulfilling prophecy that opponents of the ACA have been shouting from their tinfoil hats for years.
Aside from the calculated hit to the ACA, the people of this country and this state will face the brunt of this onslaught against low and middle-class citizens. Upwards of 23 million people will lose their access to health insurance. Those not losing it will see less coverage and less protection, all while paying higher premiums. Medicaid will be capped and distributed to the states in a lump sum. This is the health insurance program that pays for nursing home beds for thousands of elderly Hoosiers, and the program that insures the most vulnerable adults and children. This program is being slashed and other benefits erased so billions of dollars can be diverted to cover tax cuts for the rich. Unless you make over $200,000 a year, you won’t see a single dollar of this tax cut.
However, you will feel the cost. The social costs are enormous. We have been here before as a nation. Before the ACA, millions of people could not even gain access to health insurance markets, let alone pay to see a physician. If individuals had a preexisting condition or met their healthcare benefit cap, they were out of luck too. Health care costs accounted for a significant number of bankruptcies. In 2010, there were 1.5 million personal bankruptcies. Last year, there were 770,846. That’s a 50 percent decrease in six years.
I don’t know of anyone who wants to go back to those times, besides the 13 men in a closed room in Washington that wrote this bill. I now see why there was so much secrecy.