By Margaret Flowers
Today Politico provided more details of the Republican’s plans to repeal and replace Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act). Overall, the impacts on the health insurance industry are hard to predict, but we can say for certain that they will do what they can to protect their bottom line. The impacts on people are clearer to see – fewer people with low incomes will have access to Medicaid, people with low incomes who do not qualify for Medicaid will be unlikely to be able to afford health insurance premiums, especially if they are older and high quality health plans will continue their decline.
It is also clear that the Republican plan will worsen the healthcare crisis in the United States.
Here are some of the details:
- Eliminate the individual mandate to purchase health insurance but if your insurance coverage lapses and you try to purchase insurance you will have to pay a 30% surcharge on top of your premium for the first year. This creates an even higher barrier for people without insurance or who may have a life circumstance that causes them to temporarily lose coverage who want to purchase insurance.
- Eliminate the subsidies for the purchase of health insurance that are currently based on income and give them based on age instead. Insurance companies can also charge up to five times more for people who are older. This will disproportionately impact people with incomes under 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, just over 80% of adults without health insurance have incomes under 400% FPL.
- Cut funding for Medicaid. Rather than providing Medicaid funding based on states’ needs, states will receive a lump sum and will then divide that as they see fit. If the demand for Medicaid rises, fewer people will receive it or everyone will have cuts in what is covered.
- Give states money to create high-risk pool insurance. These have been tried in the past and have failed because the costs of premiums and/or the out-of-pocket were high so patients still went without care.
- Tax comprehensive employer plans (the ‘cadillac tax’). Comprehensive employer plans used to be considered the standard. Now they are considered a luxury. This tax will drive more employers to jettison these plans for lower-cost plans or they’ll push employees into the individual market where they have no bargaining power to negotiate a fair price for health insurance.
The healthcare crisis won’t go away until we, the people, organize and mobilize to demand it. That time is now. We are spending enough on health care in the United States right now to provide comprehensive coverage to every person without premiums, co-pays or deductibles.
- Contact your Representative in Congress and urge them to co-sponsor HR 676: The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. The Capitol switchboard is 202 224 3121. Or talk to your member at a town hall.
- Call Senator Sanders and urge him to introduce a senate version of HR 676. Click here for an easy call-in tool.
- Join the Health Over Profit National Calls to learn more about National Improved Medicare for All and how we win it. Click here to register for the calls.