Thursday, NPR discussed the Republican “health care” bill that recently passed the House. For starters, it would cut $900 billion from Medicaid over 10 years. The largest share of Medicaid goes to low-income elderly and disabled people, covering nursing home and home health care. It also covers low-income children and pregnant women. The new bill would end Medicaid expansion, which has been highly successful in the 31 states, plus D.C., that have adopted it.
Unlike the ACA (“Obamacare”), the Republican bill would allow insurance companies to charge rural residents more, making insurance out of reach for many in sparsely populated areas. In addition, companies could resume charging more for pre-existing conditions. Many millions of people, disproportionately those sicker and/or relatively older (55-64), would lose coverage. People making over $100,000 per year would pay less -- and those making over $200,000 would actually receive a tax cut! Does anyone doubt the Republicans are in the pockets of the wealthy?
The ACA has not been perfect, but it has provided access to health care to many millions of people who previously lacked it, and has benefited hospitals and other providers as well as patients. I hope to see full national health care in our country in my lifetime: All other wealthy democracies have it, and it's the humane solution. At least, let's not go back to where we were 10 years ago, when so many people had no recourse but the emergency room. May this bill die the ignominious death it deserves.
Joan F. Walsh