Is there anything more immoral than to push for a proposal that would deny medical access to millions of people?
But that’s just what is happening in this country under the Trump regime and with Republican majorities in the U.S. House and Senate. Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy have submitted a bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and slash funding for Medicaid. It would most likely do away entirely with the individual mandate and weaken requirements that insurance companies must cover pre-existing conditions in some states.
Under the proposal, health care money would be given to states in block grants. Individual states could then decide to do away with ACA requirements if they have a plan. Liberal states, such as California, would suffer the most because of deep cuts to the system and because they insured more people through the Affordable Care Act exchange.
In essence, this is a repeal of the ACA without any plan going forward. It also slashes overall health care funding. The cut is estimated to be $239 billion over the next decade.
The Affordable Care Act has been successful, but the nation’s health care system still faces steep challenges. The Graham-Cassidy bill, on the other hand, will make the health care system much worse for all patients but especially for the poor and elderly. There is no way to overstate the impact of this bill on the lower and middle classes if it passes.
Senate Republicans failed to repeal and replace the ACA relatively recently when U.S. John McCain and other Republicans voted it down. This bill is worse than the one rejected in July. It’s a cruel, heartless measure designed to inflict as much harm as possible on poor people seeking medical care. That the bill, if passed, would result in the deaths of people is not hyperbole.
Republicans will argue the proposed system will give states the ability to determine how to spend their money, as if medical care is a state-rights issue, but there are virtually no restrictions on how the money can be spent. Mississippi would undoubtedly spend its money differently than a state such as California. The money could conceivably be spent on other programs besides health.
Fortunately, the bill faces a Sept. 30 deadline so Republicans have only a couple of weeks to collect votes they need.
Some leading progressives and the national Democratic leadership are urging single-payer advocates like myself to refocus on saving the ACA, but I think that lacks vision. Why can’t we point out the craven nature of the Republican health care proposals and work against them at the same time as we make more people aware of a rational health care system used by all leading, industrialized countries in the world?
Now is the perfect time to discuss health care because, well, that’s what we’re discussing under Republican political domination. Outlining our differences with the GOP is an opportunity.